On our one-way journey between birth and death, expectations are like inner traffic lights, directing and helping us to keep track of our movements. The red, green, and yellow colours keep us on the alert, warning us to be ready to let go or stop.
Our life expectations are like hundred other things; it is natural for the human heart to seek fulfilment when emptiness occurs. We may be tired and hope someone will do us a favour, feel lonely, and long for a hug. We learn how much we can or cannot count on people and things around us in life experiences. At times there is confusion between our hopes and expectations. The wings of hope fly with endless strings and can soar to infinite heights. Hopes are closer to dreams, and the sky is not the limit. However, we rely on things happening around us for expectations, with people, things, and ourselves. For hopes, dreams, or expectations, when they go down, we are left with frustrations. It’s like losing one’s way, not knowing where and how to proceed from that point. As Linda, a retired health professional, puts it, “When I retired and had all the time in the world, I expected my sons and daughters to drop by more often. But of course, they had their own busy lives and could not double up their visits because I had more time. I had my daily doses of disappointments, and it affected my relationship with them. At one point, I realized that the frequency of their visits does not determine how much they love me. They are doing what I taught them to do, be responsible for taking care of their small children and home. They came to me when they could and with love.”There could be expectations from the community or the society we live in to abide by their norms. With friends or family, we help each other in the best ways we can. But expecting people to do ‘this’ or ‘that’ for us leads to grievances. We cannot dictate people to feel a certain way or to do something. As Lisa Kleypas, an American author, says, “You are your own worst enemy. If you can learn to stop expecting impossible perfection in yourself and others, you may find the happiness that has always eluded you.” Faithful giving is when one gives from the heart. When people give of themselves, it is similar to the rain coming down on the scorched lands. Loving and giving are natural acts of a compassionate soul.
The world of nature around us likes a representation of our true selves. We cannot persuade or coerce it to give us fruits and flowers unless given through the force of the universe. The lesson is that we should not expect people to think or act according to our expectations; acts of compassion happen naturally. In family matters, parenting becomes a tricky part in how the fathers or the mothers may want children’s support in maintaining the home. Children need the freedom to grow within, think, and wonder with every life lesson they meet. We can guide and support them. The giving between the children and the parents is a blessing that happens without expectations. Every child enters the world with a pure soul, and as parents, we help him or her life consciously, within the family, and in society. We teach them to spread the light of our Maker, to be a good human being.
As Mat, a banker, says, “It is funny how often we end up being hurt and end up with bad relationships just because we expect certain actions or words from others.” Acts of goodness or charity do not come with hoping for any return; when we want something back, that is like negotiating. The words of Sylvia Plath can be like a daily reminder, “If you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed.”
Life, at different stages, is like testing grounds of our expectations. As a child, we expect teenagers to be filled with rosy adventures and, upon reaching the years, find that the journey is not as light as desired. One considerable ground where our expectations and realities struggle is the married life. To be realistic is not to expect but to be thankful for all that comes and does not. After all, we do not know how our Lord blesses us by giving or not giving.
There is no denying that expectations and reality do not walk hand in hand.
Tulip Chowdhury writes from