Boadicea, The Warrior Queen - City of Westminster, England
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015
I am re-posting an edited version of the original. It's timely and I think it is something to which we can all relate and take opportunity to re-shape in our lives.
So, "Expectations meet Joy and Desire; now could the three of you all try to get along?"
Why the blazes am I heading down this path on an otherwise peaceful Sunday morning? Well, I am heading down this path because it came to me and because I believe I can offer some peaceful thoughts on the subject.
It seems to me that expectations are kind of tied up with opinions. We have our own, which may or may not have been influenced by our parents, our history, our spouse, media and so on. We also have the expectations and opinions that come to us quite directly in the now, like missiles.
I've been thinking about the height, depth and breadth of my self-expectations and how often I place them onto others. I am ridiculous for doing this. How many times do I talk about all of us walking our own paths in our own ways? Hypocrisy! Hypocrisy!
Oh well, I am pleased to discover this about myself. As I continue to unpack it, I realize that my high self-expectations were seeded in my childhood. My understanding of one of my parents was that it was imperative to succeed - that there was no room for accident nor failure. Accident and failure resulted in anger, discipline and those, oh so awful, looks of disappointment. How could I not carry those expectations forward into my adulthood when they were as deep in my being as grain is to oak. The wonderful thing is that when we grow up, if we take the time to look at this stuff, with or without the help of psychology professionals, we get to untie the net and make it into something that fits us now or cast it off entirely.
We have the opportunity to re-frame expectations as goals - if we wish. We have the capacity to try, to fail, to learn and grow. We have the capacity to acknowledge the same need in those who surround us. I would guess that everyone has felt like a failure in front of someone and, I know from personal experience, it is a wonderful feeling when someone stands by you through your errors and says, "Hey, it's okay. You can do it again. I'm here and I love you whether you succeed this time or whether you need to try again."
What is horrific is to create expectations of someone and then systematically peel away their tools and set up barriers to their success. If you are in that situation, you are best to trade in your chips and leave the table for a gamble with better odds. Some people aren't able to be direct or clear and will set you up for failure because it is the only path they can handle for themselves. Remember that this is likely not about you; rather, someone's inability to engage safely and kindly in difficult conversations.
Try to remember, it is the path and not the destination. It is the relationships and the journey that make up the food of our lives. Whenever we reach the end of the road, do we want to be thinking, "Darn it, I wish I had done more - I wish I had at least tried"? Have fun on the journey. Don't worry too much if something breaks or fails. Just learn from it and move on. We are all perfect in our paths as long as we proceed at whatever speed and in whatever way works for us. Unless you are a surgeon ...hmm, maybe get good at it first, really good, and then try. I do not envy them their need for absolute accuracy. I am sure there are other situations and careers to which this applies - automotive brake repair perhaps?
Enjoy the journey as best you can, my peeps. I really don't know if we get another crack at this whole life thing, but I'm not much of a gambler and, lately, my body and soul are far too eroded by those who are filled with fear (including myself at times) pushing me down and holding me down to drown.
I am resurfacing, slowly, for harm has made me weak, but arise I will, as sure as the sun to another day. There may be clouds; it may be raining, but I am still here and I will continue to rise as long as there is breath in my lungs and a beat in my heart. Is that not enough to expect of any of us, after all?
-Gillian Cornwall, c. April 17, 2016
Nelson, atop his column, Trafalgar Square, UK
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2016