“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” (Mark Twain)
I believe the path to peace of mind—or peace in general—is paved with the rotting remains of those dangerous monsters known as expectations.
I recently accepted a leadership position on a committee, but before I did that I made sure the inviting party understood a few things about me; how I do—and don’t—operate. I afforded them every opportunity to dis-invite me to accept said position.
They did not. Even after I told them I accepted the challenge of the position, but held no expectations of the outcome of whatever efforts and plans we on said committee might put forth for the good of the others we endeavored to lead and assist.
They seemed surprised, yet pleased, that I operated this way.
My arrival at this modus operandi comes from the many, many bloody expectation battles I’ve lost, the same of which helped increase my knowledge base—or should I say—helped it mature. Finally.
I admit to having expectations of how working in the corporate world should be; of how a church committee should act in times of great stress and disagreement, or of how a book agent should respond to me, especially when I pay for a spot of their time.
The above examples, and a multitude of others through the years, brought me up straight and fast, however, as I witnessed how none of them rolled off the way I thought they should.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that working around Court at Corporate Life could be an ego-mongering, self-centered, protect-my-hind-end-first environment. It wasn’t the team-focused environment I thought I was joining, because how else could a company be successful—right?
Uh-huh . . . and rabbits never eat tender young greens in gardens.
Church committees just may be the most treacherous and unforgiving ground you’ll ever encounter. I was stunned to observe how people could—and would—turn Holy Scripture upside down, over and around to support the most unkind, misguided actions or reactions.
And where did I get the idea that paying for a little bit of time with a lit agent at a book conference meant they would actually follow up with me—telling me either yes or no? I mean—how do I come up with these naïve ideas?
Having expectations isn’t worth the angst we will suffer. Telling the Universe what to send back to us is going to make us unhappy when what we want—or believe–doesn’t happen, or proves to be untrue.
I don’t confuse this notion with having no dreams, desires or hope, however.
Now I simply choose reality.
I work extra hard these days at not putting me, my work, efforts, ideas or arguments out to the rest of the world believing I know what should come back to me.
This can be hard to do, and I’m no master at it, but I am better off in this regard than I used to be. A work in progress, you might say.
We should put our best efforts—whatever they look like—be that our written work, our opinions, our artistic ideas–out there. And once it’s out there, we must pull our literal and figurative hands back to our sides, smile, give things a nod for good luck—and for the sake of self—cut it loose.
Have no expectations of how that thing is going to look when it returns to you—or what it returns to you.
We’ve done what we can. I believe the rest is up to something we can’t see and will never completely understand.
I rather like Alexander Pope’s words: “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”