couple, holding hands
Life changes quickly and it’s a concept I find hard to grasp.
I’m unsure whether to be terrified or excited by this persistent cycle. When life seems replete with abundance and bliss, I try my best to keep rigidly still, fearing that sudden movement might cause my circumstances to shift.
I tell myself not to blink in case I end up somewhere I don’t want to be without a clue as to how the hell I got there. The opposite applies to periods of turmoil, when the only solution I can comprehend is rapid-fire, frantic motion and a peripheral hope that something might quell the turmoil.
For the last four months, I’ve spent my time learning the ins and outs of mindful journalism through elephant journal’s apprenticeship program. The constant flood of positivity circulating in my daily life has undoubtedly given me various tools to look at life a little bit differently.
Case in point:
Two weeks ago, I was perusing the local farmers’ market with a man you might say I’ve grown fond of. I’d spent the majority of that week with him engaging in fairly normal, domesticated activities.
I was sure to make a mess of his bed at night so that come morning I could put it neatly back together.
I shared heartfelt conversations with him and his father over meals and cups of coffee.
I was showering in front of him; he was pissing in front of me.
It seemed a natural enough progression.
This week, I’ve spent most of my time alone, in bed, heart racing, with a sickening disappointment turning in my stomach. I’m left to assume this person is either in serious danger or made a conscious decision to disappear without warning.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a first for me and I can’t say with certainty that it’ll be a last. I believe though, that my previous experience with these situations and perhaps more importantly the mindful influence from elephant journal has proven useful in my current scenario.
I’ll say that experience doesn’t dissolve pain. I’m still just as shocked upon each discovery that the people I knew turned out to be not who I thought they were.
I don’t think they’re bad people—I don’t think that of anyone. It’s just that I have extremely high expectations of myself, and the way I treat people. I expect from others what I expect from myself, and I suppose this is where misunderstandings occur.
I become angry at others for not empathizing or reacting in a way that agrees with me. I understand this is completely unfair and in no way am I’m not saying that it’s right—It’s just my tendency—and the more aware of this I become, the less power I give to feelings of inadequacy and rejection.
What I’ve taken from this has a lot to do with expectation and attachment.
The Dalai Lama says, “If you have too much expectation you may come away disappointed.”
I have no interest in disputing this statement, in fact I believe it to be completely valid.
I will however point out that “no expectations” and “high expectations” are two different things. Expecting too much—yes, may undoubtedly lead to suffering but the same can be said for expecting too little.
I don’t foresee myself letting go of my expectations for humanity, because to me this seems to be an awfully cynical approach. I believe everyone deserves a very basic level of respect and it tears me up to see an utter disregard for this notion—both in my life and the lives of people I love.
I will however try to re-frame the way I think about expectation. I am not obligated to fulfill anyone’s expectations nor are they obligated to fulfill mine. As far as attachment is concerned I have to remind myself that someone else’s presence in my life may indeed make me happy but my happiness can never be dependent on that.
While writing in my journal recently, I jotted down a lesson I’d come away with in a similar circumstance:
I know now that I’ll never lose anything again because I never had anything to begin with. It’s the most freeing feeling in the world to have everything and own nothing.
This perhaps is the moral of the story and a lesson I seemingly must continue to practice. I encourage all to consider this and see benefit from a slight shift in perspective.