April 1, 2012
Expectation (part 1)
Hang on boys and girls, I feel a rant coming on! Or a vent. Or maybe just a meandering, meant to bring clarity and clear my cluttered head.
I made a fateful error this week. Well, actually, I made two fateful errors.
One error was subtle: Unbeknownst to my brain, my heart has, for a couple of months, been holding an expectation for the future based upon an agreement with a quasi-friend and collaborator. The other error was blatant: When my expectations were unceremoniously crushed, that is, when the person in question D E L E T E D failed to uphold what I saw as his/her part of a deal, I responded with an extraordinary burst of fury. To understand the import of such emotion, it is important to note that I am not an angry person. My mom is what is commonly, sometimes even affectionately, called a loose cannon; raised in a household of frequent rages, more often than not accompanied by potentially lethal flying objects, I coped by becoming a cream puff. I rarely raise my voice, never strike out, and refuse to use the “f” word because of its negative, decidedly angry, connotations. Nonetheless, I’m telling you, on Saturday night, my head nearly ripped from the scrawny mooring of my shoulders.
Up until then, my day had been going great. My daughter is home for a visit; I had held a successful event that afternoon; and we had just returned from a lovely dinner and movie. Intending to send a note of thanks to the afternoon’s attendees, I saw it: An email, bearing the innocuous subject line: D E L E T E D Suspecting nothing, I opened the email. That’s when I learned that what had started as a joint effort had, quite suddenly and without warning, become a one wo/man venture. I had been cut from the team. My quasi-friend and collaborator did not come out and say this last bit in the email, however. Rather, I had to visit his/her website to confirm my suspicion. Yes, there it was, a blurb I HAD WRITTEN for a workshop we had designed together. Except this time, there was no mention of Annie Maier.
WTF! my brain screamed (though without the F of course). How could anyone be so unnecessarily mean? So senselessly D E L E T E D? So blatantly D E L E T E D?
Which brings us to today’s word:
- a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.
- a belief that someone will or should achieve something.
Throughout time, philosophers have debated the nature of such beliefs. William Shakespeare felt that expectation was “the root of all heartache,” while the Dalai Lama teaches that it is only in “reducing expectations,” that one can “promote contentment.” In general, I agree. I also believe completely in the Buddhist tenet that all acts must be performed without expectation of personal gain. I do struggle however in maintaining an equitable sense of what I should or should not “expect” from others in regard to their behavior not only toward me, but toward all sentient beings. Albert Schweitzer asserts that we “must not expect anything from others,” as “only from oneself has one the right to ask everything and anything. This way it’s up to you — your own choices — what you get from others remains a present, a gift.” Yes, yes, Mr. S, I get it! But the fact that we should not expect such “gifts” cannot possibly mean that we are to have no sense of trust that another person, someone who has professed a seemingly sincere desire to be in community with us, will not squash us beneath his/her wriggling toes without so much as a “piss-off you worm.” Is it too much to ask that said person, having apparently come to the end of his/her interest in such communion, would not wo/man-up and SAY SO?
Maybe I am wrong. Clearly it was just such thoughts that led me up the proverbial garden path. Straight toward expectation and into the arms of…
(to be continued)