That Rotting Carcass Called Expectation.

You can see it, but that doesn't mean you can have it.

You can see it, but that doesn’t mean you can have it.

“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.”


8 thoughts on “That Rotting Carcass Called Expectation.

  1. R’becca,
    This is yet another gem of a thought from a friend. Could I say, I have grown to expect your pieces to cause me to take pause and reset my thought direction.

    And, from the Hollywood Hills of Iowa – Happy Spring.

    • Thank you, Frank. I think that may be one of the nicest things I’ve heard about this blog and my efforts out here. Much appreciated.

      I’ll keep the Happy Spring thoughts in mind–for when it really does arrive in Iowa–and the rest of the Midwest!!

      Keep on!

      R’becca G.

  2. Rebecca, it’s taken me a life-time to realize that any new venture is just that, a venture. One can’t help but “imagine” how a project will turn out and usually, the outcome is quite different from what I had in mind. Sometimes it’s actually better than I imagined but only because I was open to surprises along the way. Other times, like my first week as a high school art teacher in 1973, I had pictured in my mind that the kids would be thrilled to little pieces to have me as a teacher. They were not very thrilled to see me, but so excited to see their friends that every class demanded my crowd control methods, and I had none. After teaching for 12 years, I still think of that first week and first year as an eye-opening revelation.
    On the subject of talking to agents about a manuscript, that’s the hardest of all my book experiences. Capturing their interest in 5 minutes (that’s all you get at a conference) takes so much practice and patience that I’d rather self-publish than go through that again.
    Good blog post. I love the closing quote by Alexander Pope. I think of it as kind of tongue-in-cheek and light-hearted.

    • Hi Betty!

      How are you doing by now? It was so good to find your comments out here tonight. Thank you for commenting. I felt great empathy for you in your early teaching experiences. How difficult that has to be.

      It really is a constant fight to not have expectations and I’ll be battling that demon the rest of my life. But, hey–what do you expect from another human–right?

      You be well and take care.


      • I see I’ve been spelling your name wrong.
        As to how I’m doing “by now”–much better, but it’s gonna be a slow process. I must admit that I DO have GREAT EXPECTATIONS for controlling the diagnosis. It’s not gout as I had thought, but psoriatic arthritis, instead. It’s due to a thryroid deficiency that was diagnosed long, long ago; another one of those autoimmune diseases…of which there are many. I’m weaning myself from 6 tablets of Advil daily to 2 or maybe three and sometimes, none. To keep from feeling down and out, I’m doing all I can to take care of myself better by eating healthier and logging some physical activity even though it’s a small amount. I’ve also given up gloomy thoughts and am now thinking cheerful ones. If I EXPECT to get better, and do a lot to help myself, I believe I can get a handle on the symptoms: joint swelling, pain and stiffness. With my new medication (once a week) and my new attitude (all the time now), I think my expectations will match the real me. What honestly helps my attitude is that I can feel the new medication working. I’m still very grateful for you filling in for me at the Book Fair. Many people have written saying it was just GREAT.

      • Your use of the word “expect” here is most appropriate, Betty.

        I am elated to hear that you are improving.

        Wanted to suggest another word that I use–expect is fine, but I like to incorporate “invite” into times such as you are experiencing.

        Invite the wellness. Invite the improvement–invite the new change. Invite health.

        You are on a good path and I look forward to hearing you totally kid butt on that arthritis that’s been interfering with your life!

        All my best to you today,

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