Got Expectations?

“Sow an expectation, reap a disappointment.”Skier in the air

This adage confounded me for a long, long time. How can I not have expectations?  For example, if I pay for my groceries, I expect that I will be allowed to take them home. If I’m in a relationship, I expect to be treated with kindness and not be abused. These seem like reasonable, even healthy, expectations.

It finally dawned on me one day that I was confusing standards with expectations. The clear, hard light of reality shone through this word and revealed it to be illusory, a dream. Aha!  If I expect things to go a certain way, then when they don’t, I will surely be disappointed. Yet another way that I create my own suffering, again and again.

I’d like to say that I came to this realization years ago and have been so much more peaceful ever since, but I’ve only had hold of it for a few weeks. It took the process of selling two homes and buying one to open my mind to the truth about expectations. Almost nothing met my expectations. Read more

Walking Into the Unknown

We can't always see around the next corner

We can’t always see around the next corner

“I really want to go back to grad school this year.  I’m going to do it!”

“I wonder what it will be like?”

“Do I even remember how to write a research paper?”

“Will everyone be younger and smarter than me?”

“I have no idea how I’ll keep up with work and everything else in life and go to school at the same time.”

“It’s probably more than I can afford anyway. Oh, well.”

If you’ve ever had a version of this internal conversation yourself, then you’re in good company. This is an example of how we let our fear of the unknown cut our dreams off at the pass before we even got on the horse. Our imagination paints pictures about how things would or could or should be, yet it is rarely accurate. Even so, we give it the reins and let it lead us down the same rutted path.

On a recent backpacking trip in the Badlands of North Dakota, we realized we’d been walking for some time without seeing a trail marker. Granted, they were few and far between and usually hidden under brush or grass, but this felt a little too far between. We stopped and debated what to do. Go back? Bushwhack? Get out the map and compass? Go forward? As we looked around, we realized that the small canyon we’d wound our way into looked impassable ahead, and the funny thing was that it looked impassable behind us, where we’d just come from. The way wasn’t obvious or clear in any direction. Read more

The Strange, Silent Pull

Image“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”   – Rumi

There are many variations on this theme, such as Joseph Campbell’s famous injunction to “Follow your bliss.” Rumi’s wording has subtleties that make this one of my favorite quotes.

“Silently drawn”  –  Ah, silence. There is no shortage of advice out there from self-help books, tv shows, friends and family, business gurus, etc. I think all of these sources can provide sparks of insight and ideas to explore. Yet at the end of the day, we are responsible for making decisions based on our own values, on what we love.

When we become still and silent, our intuition can teach us what it knows. Our language places this inner knowing solidly in the quiet wisdom of our bodies.  We say we have a gut feeling or feel something tug at our hearts.  Insight arrives intact and without a surplus of words – we “just knew”, or “had a flash.” We are silently drawn to what is right for us.

“Strange pull”  –  Why does Rumi choose this word to describe being pulled toward what we love? Read more