That’s one of the nicer things my brother ever said to me.
I can’t recall the particular angst that I was going through at the time — probably about 25 years ago — but I remember those words he spoke. There was no supportive hug, no “sorry you’re sad,” no discussion…just “No expectations, no disappointments.” And then he left the room.
Well, I sort of got it back then. And ironically, it was most likely my own brother who I had to have “no expectations” from as we grew further apart and he became less and less emotionable available.
When I would just let go of expecting a letter or a call or an e-mail from him, like EVER, then I was less disappointed when they never came.
And so it goes. “No expectations, no disappointments” is one of those slogans that has grown on me over the years. It is not a negative thing…it is simply a way of surrendering to the will of a Higher Power and having faith that all will be well.
The more I expect from life and people, the more I try to control outcomes, the more I risk disappointment and pain.
I am not saying that taking risks is bad…far from it. Risk-taking is a healthy exercise for living. If people don’t take risks, then the journey is going to be boring, lonely and dull.
We can take impulsive risks or calculated risks, we can plan an itinerary, save up money and budget, get just the right wardrobe…but the one thing that we can’t do is control the outcome.
For instance…a pretty basic example would go something like this: Mary observes guy she likes; Mary engages John in conversation; still likes him; Mary takes risk and asks John if he wants to go to a movie with her.
He may say yes and he may say no. Mary can’t walk into the risky situation knowing what the outcome will be…that’s a given. But…she CAN cultivate the awareness to consciously know this. She can walk into the fire without any expectation of what the result will be. John may say no and that would be a bummer, but she would know that she had tried.
Or, on the other hand, he could say yes and then Mary would be smart to have no expectations of how the outing itself might turn out. She could fall madly in love or he could turn out to be a moron. She’s free to say TTFN and move on; she doesn’t have to hang out and try to “change” him.
And having “no expectations” does not mean that there will be no pain. Pain is a good teacher. Mary may be heartbroken to discover that John is a schmuck. It’s good to cry. But she will know that next time it might be better to ask George out instead of John. No risk, no pain…no gain.
I have taken many risks since that day that my brother handed down his proclamation. Some have worked out for the best, some have seemed to be pointless. I have expected too much and I have cried; I have expected nothing and I have cried. But…sometimes I have laughed.
Going out into the world every day is a risk…there will be surprises both good and bad. The gift is that there will ALWAYS be surprises.
©January 2011 by Phyllis J. Hanniver
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