As usual, last night my beloved yogi had some words of inspiration for us as we laid in savasana. I love her words as we lay there. Always thought provoking. Sometimes they speak directly into my life, others just make me think. Last night was the latter.
She was discussing expectations and it made me think how often we have an expectation of how a situation will go, a movie will end, a conversation will be started, a day will turn out. We all have such expectations, but what happens when things don’t turn out as we thought they would? The situation went horribly wrong, the movie took an unexpected twist. How do you handle such things? (Ok, the movie isn’t exactly a life altering example, but I think you get my point.)
As I was thinking about all of this, two examples came to mind. Very high expectation and low(er) ones. When I was in high school, my best friend and I made a pact, which in hindsight was very stupid and set us both up for failure. We didn’t know it then though. We thought we were smart. (Don’t all high school kids do stupid things thinking they’re smart?) We said we going to set our expectations low. Very low. That way we would never be disappointed when it didn’t turn out as bad as we thought it would. Like we were cheating the system or something. Oh, we’re soooooooo smart.
The problem with that was, we found things that didn’t even meet up with our low expectations, so we lowered them even farther. Does he have a pulse? Check. Does he have his own car? No. Ok, well, can he at least drive? Yep, check. We both made some pretty bad choices that way. Instead of setting our expectations high and waiting for those to be met, we were impatient. Impulsive. And too damned proud to admit we were making huge mistakes. How many high school girls ADMIT to making a mistake with her choices? Not many I don’t think. I certainly wasn’t.
On the other hand though, raising them too high is almost unattainable. I’ll use my wonderful dad as this example. (Sorry Dad! I love you!!) I compare my dad to Clark Griswold all the time. This is going to be the best birthday/Christmas/picnic/whatever EVER! And it never turns out that way.
We go to our beach house every summer for vacation. It’s combining three families under one roof for an extended amount of time. There are kids running around, alcohol flowing (with an alcoholic thrown into the mix….not good), and with everyone’s best intentions, something (almost daily) doesn’t turn out the way everyone thought it would. And I don’t mean it is something huge or anything of the sort. Just a change. A storm blows in while we’re in the middle of a bocce tournament. Dinner reservations can’t be made on the night we planned to go out. The rum is gone. But the expectation of what we were going to do is altered. It can really bum my dad out who has this Clark Griswold vacation from beginning to end planned out in his head.
We had our own expectation this year of going deep sea fishing. We had talked about it for years, it’s expensive, but this year we were like YES! We’re going to do it no matter what. We called the Captain (no, not Captain Morgan!) and booked our date. We were very excited. Then my aunt got sick and my mom had to leave suddenly to go to her side. My dad was finishing his last round of treatment for his cancer. My brother and sister in law were in Florida looking at houses and 2 of their 3 kids were home with us. Do we cancel our trip? Do we still go? Dad insisted we go and he would be back from treatment before we had to leave. So we went. We cast off, and went flying out past some of the other smaller barrier islands. We were having a blast. After fishing in one spot for about 30 minutes, the Captain (Yes, I called him Captain Ron. I don’t think he appreciated it), he went to pull anchor so we could move to a different spot, and the damnest thing happened. The anchor chain broke and fell into the ocean. I’m not even kidding. Plop. Down it went. Captain Ron just stood there staring in disbelief. He says that has never ever happened before. And just like that, our trip was over. He wasn’t allowed to have us out there without an anchor. Plop. Over. Done.
So is it better to have low expectations or high ones? And what do you do when they aren’t met? Can you roll with it? Do you crumble to the ground? Do you brood and pout? I can say for me, I do all of those mentioned at one time or another. But I am honestly trying to roll with it more. I might not have control over the situation, but I have control over how I react to it. I can choose to let it devastate me or I can choose to take a moment, breathe, and move on. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. I just have to listen more.