Day 3: Wandering into Surprise


By Amanda Cleary Eastep

Day 3: Find Surprises; Give up Expectation [Days 1-1 linked below]

Planning can be good in life, but if we over plan, we don’t leave room for life to surprise us. If we plan every detail, at the very best, our expectations will be met and nothing more. Talk about how getting out in nature has helped you live more in the moment and give up the need for control. What has been a nice surprise in your life that happened when you let go of the reins a little?

Day 1: Finding Healthy Habits

Day 2: Finding Courage, Giving Up Fear

I had barely mixed the pancake batter before my three year old had launched into her morning ritual. Indifferent to breakfast, and blonde, wispy hair still looking like a homeschool experiment in static electricity, she pointed at the back door and tugged at my hand. I could imagine her saying,

Outside. C’mon, lady, there’s a whole big world out there, and you’re worried about eating and vacuuming. 

If it hadn’t been for the C-section, I would have sworn she had been raised by wolves. Plus, I feel the same way about the outdoors. She’s definitely mine.

As soon as we stepped out the door, she waddled-scurried-tripped to my flower bed, which was surrounded by a perimeter of rocks the size of bread loaves.

I knew the drill. Lift up each rock to see what squirmy-wormy, creep-crawly thing might be hiding. Red worms, roly polies, and tiny millipedes scrambled for cover as my daughter made all kinds of cute toddler noises of surprise.


I’m realizing this was an early sign that in adulthood she would make a worthy hiking companion. She is always ready to take the trail less traveled and notices and appreciates the little things along the path. And there are always surprises.

Like snakes. A few weeks ago, we took a side path, and spied a young couple further ahead. They stood still and faced each other a few feet apart. From the sound of their voices, I thought they might be arguing.

As we drew closer, the man’s back was to us, and noticing our approach, he asked my daughter what sounded like, “Do you want a snack?”

“No, thanks,” she replied, then took another step forward to pass them when she realized she had misheard him.

“Oh! Do I want a snake. Sure!” she said, gently taking the small garter snake from the guy’s hands.

“I just wanted my girlfriend to see how regular people react to snakes,” he said.

I’m not sure about the regular part, but Mack was in her glory over the surprise encounter with a favorite animal. [Yes, I know we shouldn’t touch the wildlife. But I figured we were saving the poor thing. (The girlfriend, not the snake).]

Of course, surprises can happen along any path, whether it winds through unchartered woods or takes you from point A to point B every single day. You can’t plan for surprises (that would ruin everything), but you can be open to them.

I think that’s why surprises seem to “happen” more often when we decide to take a different way. It isn’t so much that surprises exist there in greater abundance, it’s just that our eyes and hearts and minds are at the ready when traveling a trail of uncertainty.

Makes you wonder what you’re missing the rest of the time.

How has getting out in nature helped you live more in the moment and give up the need for control?

What has been a nice surprise in your life that happened when you let go of the reins a little?

My filmmaker friend Erin is walking the Wicklow Way in Ireland. As part of a collaborative film project (to which my daughters and I have contributed), each day of the journey will have a theme. All week, I’m “walking alongside” Erin via this blog and sharing my experience of how walking/hiking/wandering on purpose can help and heal us.


Day 1: Finding Healthy Habits

Day 2: Finding Courage, Giving Up Fear


11 thoughts on “Day 3: Wandering into Surprise

  1. I always love your posts. You make me want to get out in nature even more, though I could do without the snakes. LOL We had a surprise yesterday, but it was a bit unnerving. Looking for the house we were to rent we drove up a steep drive. Problem is, it was the wrong one and there was no place to turn around!!!! I tried and my husband tried to no avail. Finally he said he’d just have to back down and I would have to direct him. Well, we took it slowly and it worked. I realized that we really do make a good team. 🙂

    Blessings to you, Amanda!


    1. The steep inclines in NC threw me, so I know what you mean. Of course, when the hubby tells stories of riding on top of the bus on the mountain roads of India in case he had to jump if the bus started over the cliff, NC doesn’t seem so rough!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So true – life is kind of like a hike – filled with surprises. I think the guy probably expected a more “regular” response like I would have given him… lots and lots of shrieking and trembling. Love this series!


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