Thursday, November 18, 2010

On Expectations and Letting Them Go

Travel has made it so that I haven't had chance to keep up with my daily posts, but has offered other opportunities for insight into pervasive thought patterns.  One development I was happy to note is that I am becoming more relaxed about the flow of events around me.  I am more willing to let the current of events take me somewhere rather than be caught up in how I want them to go.

We spent the last four days in Orlando for my sister-in-law's wedding.  Two days were travel including today. Tuesday was the rehearsal lunch and a family get together in the evening, and yesterday was the wedding and reception at Epcot.  The whole trip was a lot of fun!

Learning to let go of expectations about how my time should be spent is opening up a chance for enjoyment of what actually is happening and what is possible.  Weeks ago I was unhappy about how much the trip would cost, how long it would be, how the schedule was going to lay out and why the whole thing couldn't be more local.  But, reality is that this is Derek's sister's wedding, and she can do what she wants.  We want to be there for her and her husband, and at the end of the day, this trip wasn't supposed to be a vacation for us.  I think both Derek and I had been upset because we felt like it was a forced vacation that we couldn't really afford, to a place we wouldn't have chosen to go.  But once we let go of this additional burden to the trip, it could actually just be about being there for his sister and family, and us enjoying the remaining time there as a much needed break from our daily grind.

I think this kind of forced expectation is something I do a lot, and I can see how it causes needless suffering.  Things are what they are, and making them into grand ordeals is stressful and detracts from the joy and beauty that are present otherwise.  The urge to make this journey to Disney into a vacation for us actually was a source of great stress.  There was no time nor money to make that happen.  The schedule was tight and the cost for the parks so high for a one-day pass that it would have been over $200 for us to spend about two hours at a single park.  Logically, that just wasn't a great idea, but the thought that we ought to "enjoy Disney" was really stuck for a while.  We felt bad that we couldn't afford to go, that we didn't have an extra day or two to spend there for the parks, and that the schedule was such that we couldn't cram in a park trip around the rehearsal and wedding.

But then, we decided to let it go, and just relax.  The truth was, this wasn't our vacation.  It was a wedding that we were cherished guests to.  Yes, it cost a lot of money, but that is what it is.  We can't undo it, and we wouldn't choose to be absent to family on such an important occasion.  We had already paid for our hotel.  So we went to the gatherings and laughed with family.  We ate lots of food and sang.  We enjoyed the resort we stayed at and swam.  I read books and played Angry Birds, and we slept in and took naps.  We didn't watch TV, and we didn't have a computer.  It was blissful to not be rushed.  Not cramming in "entertainment" was wonderful!  Enjoying family was great, and I felt really welcomed and a part of everything going on.  Because I wasn't worrying about what else I could be doing or should be doing, I could actually just have fun and be present for once.  What a relief!

This brought home to me just how much I do this every day.  I spend so much time in thought over what could be happening that I fail to do anything right now.  My emotions and thoughts are often far away, rehashing the past or living alternate presents.  Why not enjoy what is right before me?  Why waste time worrying about unanswered emails when I would have plenty of energy to answer them quickly and well at another time?  Why worry about drawings, or classes or any of it that isn't relevant right now, when their time will come soon enough?

I had a glimpse of the truth that there is plenty of time, and I spend so much of it in minor panic over what isn't happening yet that when it is time for action, I am exhausted and frustrated.  So much energy is wasted this way for me, I can't begin to describe it!  I can see how resting, re-energizing, and pausing action until the effective time arrives is really rewarding and part of a natural flow.  One can't constantly act.  There needs to be time for renewal.  The pauses between actions are just as important as the actions themselves, and I had forgotten this.  I will probably forget it again, but with practice and awareness, the memory will return.

Having an expectation for each moment of every day is debilitating.  We can't know what will happen all the time.  And quite often, we will not get what we think we want.  I'd like to become a graceful adept at flowing with circumstance.  It can be easy if I let it.  Trying to force all events and circumstances into our designs is manipulative and in our nature, but pretty disappointing.  We get what we want and find it wasn't worth the effort.  Or we don't, and we curse the effort we put into it.

Allowing life to not be about our personal enjoyment all the time ironically seems to open a window of enjoyment for what actually is.  When the day wasn't about me having a fun time at the park, I relaxed and enjoyed a swim with Derek in the pool.  I enjoyed reading for a few hours, and a mid-afternoon nap.  If I had been bent on going to the park, I would have been sullen about the swim, angry as I fell asleep, and bitter as I read my book.  Why?  It isn't going to a park that brings happiness.  It's just being present, and enjoying my husband, and enjoying a book, and the warmth of the Florida sun in November.  It's seeing how happy my sister-in-law was as she wore her wedding dress, and hearing choked-up speeches at the reception and laughing with cousins and nephews.

I am really glad that we didn't have all the cash to vacation in Florida this week.  I learned a valuable lesson about my life and how to enjoy it, especially when I worry that circumstances won't be enjoyable.  The way to get through such times for me is to just admit that it won't necessarily be enjoyable.  Just accepting that life isn't always about me takes an unbelievable amount of pressure off of my perspective.  Suddenly the day isn't so heavy.  It's not as dramatic.  I don't have to be a rock star, always getting my way even when it's annoying to others.  It's OK if I am not having fun.  It's OK if I am!  Either way, I can just breathe and get on with life.  If I am not needed, I can do something small that I enjoy, like read a book or go for a walk.  Every moment doesn't have to be deep and meaningful. It can just be what it is, and I can experience it.  What a relief!

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