Tag Archives: Expectations

Simple joy

“It is very simple to be happy, but it is very difficult to be simple.” ~Rabindranath Tagore

I’ve been away from writing for a while. I’m starting to learn to appreciate the ebbs and flows of inspiration. It’s different for each person, but for some, periods of writing about life have to be separated by periods of living life.

When I look at my life, most of the spiritual growth I have experienced has come from intimate/romantic relationships and the alternating periods of solitude. I’m sort of existing between those two right now. Not in a relationship, but have a few relationships that are in various stages of whatever they are or are going to become, none of which I have any idea about. And I’m oddly okay with that.

Early this year I decided to change my expectations about dating. For the past 4 years I’ve been going on dates and for more than three of those years I have had unconscious prejudices and expectations about what constitutes a relationship, what relationships are supposed to look like, and how long they are supposed to last to even be called a relationship. But I’ve noticed if you challenge most beliefs, they rarely stand up to even the most basic scrutiny.

As a result of my decision, I have had encounters of varying lengths this year, some of which have turned into lovely friendships and some that were clearly meant to be no more than isolated incidents of people hanging out being nice to each other for a little while. And I’ve learned that when one is living with awareness in the present moment, there just isn’t any such thing as time or duration. Every moment is equally powerful as a means to affect change in the world and every encounter, however brief, has the potential to change the lives of the people involved. It’s all a matter of perspective.

When we have expectations of how things are supposed to go, we rob ourselves of the universe of possibilities that exist in every moment. It is by challenging everything, every dearly held belief, that one can unlock the potential that exists in the now. And the thing that is most amazing, to me anyway, is the lovely sense of peace and calm that comes out of the chaos of questioning oneself in this way. Because it’s only fair to tell the truth upfront, what I’m doing here with my life, this is not the easy spiritual path. This is the gut wrenching, second guessing, messy, mistake-filled path to enlightenment. When it’s all said and done, I’ll likely attain enlightenment the same way I’ve accomplished everything this lifetime – sliding into home base, bloodied and bruised and covered in dirt. It’s beautiful, it’s the path that chose me, and I am finally, finally, finally learning to embrace it.

I am so grateful for my life. And it’s not because it looks how society says it should look at my age. It’s so far from normal, a fact about which I used to be ambivalent – largely due to my desire to sort of blend into the background as much as possible.

Now I just don’t care…in a good way.

I know I’m weird by most people’s standards. But it leans way more in the direction of colorful or eccentric rather than certifiable or desperately in need of meds.

The ways in which I’m weird are ways I have no intention of changing. I do and say things other people don’t have the courage to do or say. Things that can come only from an open heart. I’ve learned to give thanks for everything. And by everything, I mean absolutely everything. Everything I once considered painful, heart wrenching, disappointing, or frightening is now simply compost for the garden of my life.

Not only does this awareness, which isn’t new to me, but has been refreshed in recent months, apply to dating and the ability to let people come and go fairly fluidly in my life, but also to finding joy in the most basic and fundamental things. Once a person can do this, find a way to be happy without needing all or most of the things the world tells us are necessary components of happiness, one is truly free. Really all it takes is a willingness to be grateful for things, just as they are, without going that step further and thinking about all the things that would be necessary to make it better somehow.

One of the most beautiful results of letting go of expectations, both my expectations of the world and the world’s of me, is that in doing so, everyone around me feels a sense of permission to do likewise. Nobody needs anyone else’s permission to be who they really are, but the world can be a harsh place and it’s rare to find those who will actually love and accept you exactly as you are without wanting you to change anything. The person who can be that for others gets to spend their life watching people blossom and bloom and come to life before their eyes.

I think it just underscores the truth that we are all really looking for the same things in life. Acceptance and love and a safe place to just be. I think most of us feel pretty alone on our paths at times, especially those of us who are non-conforming, so it’s a kind thing to walk with each other part of the way whenever possible. And the only way we can do that for each other is to learn empathy and release judgment.

It’s amazing what brings on these realizations.

I sit here alone in my little condo, not tons better off financially than I was a couple of years ago, but definitely stable and going the right direction. I look around at my fairly simple and minimal surroundings and I see nothing but beauty. This place is not a palace, but it’s my simple, lovely, easy, peaceful haven and oasis from the demands of the world. And I am happy.

This weekend belongs to me and that’s something I haven’t had a lot in the past couple years. I do not have to do anything for anyone else this weekend. I can do or not do whatever I want, whenever I want to. Spending part of it drinking coffee, writing, and listening to 70s vinyl is fairly close to perfection. I know it wouldn’t be for everyone, but it is for me.

To feel as if all is right in the world and nothing needs to change for everything to be okay right now - a sense of equanimity – this is one of the greatest feelings we humans get to experience.

Far as I can tell, the trick is to be able to experience that no matter what is going on out there.

Sometimes I think when all humans figure out how to do that – live and let live, basically – we will finally get to move on to whatever is next for us as a species.

May we all find it, the peace that transcends all reason and understanding.


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“When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.” ~Stephen Hawking

Expectation is not our friend. It is impossible to love unconditionally and have any expectations of other people’s behavior. That’s why I believe that one of the keys to happiness is looking closely at one’s beliefs about things and rooting out qualifiers and expectations. It’s the ability to let go. Few things bring greater peace and joy to life than the ability to let go of expectations, of people, and of things. Non-attachment is one of the great keys to enlightenment.

Disappointment is the best way to identify attachments and expectations. We can all recognize that feeling because we have all felt it at some point. If you really embrace and examine feelings of disappointment, no matter how painful, you will mine spiritual gold from the insights. Because once you identify an attachment, only then does it become possible to release it.

One of the hardest areas for me to let go at times is romantic feelings. Actually, I’ve let go pretty easily in all but two situations my whole life, and those two relationships, back to back, rocked my world. So they definitely have value in showing me what makes me want to be attached to another person. It makes me look at both myself and the other person. And I think that’s good.

Sometimes the universe asks us to let go of the same person over and over. In the deepest part of my soul I believe when that happens, it is the continuation of something that has been going on for lifetimes beyond this one. When a person drifts in and out of your life repeatedly over the years and yet, there is nothing but love, no matter how much time passes, that is a person you know beyond the five senses. It’s pretty hard to deny.

In situations like these I like to rely on what some might consider magical or fanciful thinking, but it brings me comfort, so I’m not gonna knock it. It is truly the hope that lies in the pattern of separation and reconciliation that keeps me going. The hope that because we have done this so many times, we will continue doing it until we get it right.

All who meet will one day meet again until their relationship becomes holy. ~A Course in Miracles

The challenge of loving a person unconditionally is a big one. Try to accept a person, any person, exactly as they are without needing them to change a single thing. While you will find it’s harder with some than with others, in the easiest case it still takes a ton of self-discipline. Yet, every victory of the heart to love unconditionally is the most beautiful gift to the universe. And because I believe that God or the universe or whatever anyone wants to call it has blessed all of us so completely and amazingly, I believe it deserves the very best we have to offer as humans. And our very best comes from our hearts and minds, not from anything external.

This line of thinking brings me back to the concept of impermanence and what a lovely gift that is. It tells us that nothing goes on forever, so in the moments that hurt, we can have hope; in the joyous moments we can have deep gratitude. It’s all in how we choose to look at things.

Sometimes we learn to live a life free of expectations after great losses. That’s where I am coming from. When things go spectacularly wrong in life, if you are aware and able to stand back and observe your own life, you can see the hand of God at work.

The hard times have been hard the past couple of years, I can’t deny that, but what I have gained in patience and equanimity cannot be acquired by other means. I have no regrets…and very few expectations.

Letting go is the best feeling on earth.

Be at peace.


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“What I think is that a good life is one hero journey after another. Over and over again, you are called to the realm of adventure, you are called to new horizons. Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then, if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There’s always the possibility of a fiasco. But there’s also the possibility of bliss.” ~Joseph Campbell ♥

Today I found out that my short-term job has become even shorter term and will terminate at the end of this month, three weeks from today. It was unexpected, but I’m sorting through my feelings about it.

When I first learned this news and for a while after I got home tonight, I felt stressed and pretty awful. My mind immediately went into panic mode trying to think of all the things that need to happen right away. Find a new job, get dental and medical appointments done while we still have insurance and brace myself for tough times ahead.

Wait a minute…brace myself for tough times? Why? The only reason I would worry now about things that haven’t happened yet and may never happen is that I have made an assumption that there is definitely something to worry about. Somehow I decided that there are no jobs out there and that nobody will want to hire me anyway. Way to create the future with my thoughts.

It occurred to me this evening that it is just as easy to choose to feel happy and open and welcoming of whatever the universe has in store for me next. This most recent job was a great experience in which I met some very dear people. It allowed me to pay my expenses for the past couple of months and was fun and rewarding. Blessings all around. Why should the next experience be any different?

I fell into an ego trap today. I listened, however briefly, to that mean little voice inside that whispers: You are not good enough and you never will be. That oddly familiar angst, so tempting in its predictability. It’s easy to slip into feeling badly…if you’ve done enough of it. It’s intentionally deciding not to that takes effort.

Change is hard sometimes.

“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” ~Proverb

Ya know?

It is my intention to be happy for the closing of one chapter of my life so that a new one may open. May all the magic and power of the universe come together to bring new blessings in the form of new people and experiences. My heart is open. I am ready. And I am grateful.

My choice is to joyously welcome all the good that is coming to me, not be angst ridden and fearful over the calamity I have conjured up in my mind. If I’m going to create things with my mind, why not create light, joyous, beautiful things? It’s my choice, it’s my mind, I am the one in control of this experience.

The world does not need more thoughts of lack and worry and uncertainty. By choosing to think happy thoughts, I am contributing to the good energy that is going to improve things for everyone. We all contribute every day. How often do we stop and consider where we’re putting our energy?

Time for another transition.

Those who embrace change free themselves from the bondage of the ego, which tries to convince us that the unknown is scary. Only if we declare it so.

Impermanence is a beautiful thing. Where would we be without it?

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