Day 26 b – Dirty Expectations

 

 

DP writing challenge: ‘Expectations’ http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/great-expectations/Image

Photo: Cornischong at lb.wikipedia

Expectation is a story comprised of layered thoughts set one on top another like paper mache, glued with emotions such as fear, attachment and pride. Expectation forms like a scab on the surface of our experience. Once scratched it’s flimsy surface tears away, leaving a glimpse of the raw and gory truth inside. This scab is inflexible and tight and leaves a scar. While expectations met bring a measured dose of excitement (enough to feed the addiction), this quickly fades into boredom and apathy. Rapidly the mind, once again, conceives of and re-builds a new set of expectations and associated story lines, unless we should fall for that same old story again – you remember the time I expected chocolate to make me feel better; it made me feel better for awhile; and then it made me sick? I’ve done that more than once!

Expectations come at us from all directions (including from within). Some we make our own. Some we disregard. Where did they all begin? I can only guess not long after birth… ‘I expect to be fed…mwah!’ Who knows, maybe even before?

Other people’s expectations, as heavy as lead, can weigh on us like compound interest. If they support the story of ‘me’ and who I think ‘I’ ought to be (even if that is a negative self-image) then we accept them, believe them and even worship them, infusing them with power, submitting to them like we have no choice.

Expectation can sometimes be ‘hope’. Not aspirational hope that warmly guides us towards a more positive state of being but the hope that eats your stomach lining; gives you insomnia; the one you want to believe in but aren’t quite convinced; and whose close ally is fear.

Expectation can also be stubborn ignorance. ‘How could that have possibly happened? This cant’ happen to me!’ It hides in the shadows, structures our thinking and shapes our experience. Ironically, you may know, through reason, something to be the truth (such as that I will die) but subtly expect some other outcome.

Life can become one great series of misguided expectations, toppling down one after another like a stack of dominoes. The odd one might escape but, largely, they surmount to not much more than a pile of fallen pieces waiting to be rebuilt, lost or put in a box and returned to the cupboard.

What is the best strategy for dealing with expectations? See them, acknowledge how they have shaped your life and dismiss them like you would a stuffed lion that you formerly took for real. They are but transient ideas that we have held onto or feared, put on a pedestal and made offerings to. They are only as powerful as we let them be. Dropping them can be scary at first (especially for the first time) but once we taste the ensuing freedom, that sweet liberation, it is clear what choice to make.

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About annaj

We're all inter-connected and interdependent, so there is not much more for me to say about myself that you don't already know about you. Like all beings, feathered, furred or clothed, I wish to be happy. Around the year 2005, I discovered the Buddhist teachings via a near break-down (when I could no longer live up to my mind-made personal expectations), the kindness of friends, yoga and a book store. For me, from there, there was no looking back. I love the experiential truth that the Buddhist teachings embody. There is nothing there that you cannot experience yourself with a little patience, determination and open-mindedness.

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