I suppose most people live with some level of some expectation. On Tuesday, people with weekday jobs most likely expect to be at work on Wednesday. Those who left their car in the garage one day, expect it to be there the next. People who live near me expect to have electricity, clean drinking water, streets to drive on, basic accoutrements of a mid-size town, in an economically thriving part of the U.S.
I suppose there are those so enlightened that upon waking each morning they truly give thanks for another day. People who expect nothing past the Right Now, who when falling asleep don’t know if they’ll wake up and are okay with that. Maybe I’d find people like this among the Contemplatives, but for now I don’t know any. I had a political science professor in college who lived a grateful life, but his gratitude stemmed from negative expectation. An immigrant who escaped China’s Cultural Revolution, Jesse Chang was grateful for two particular things: 1) “Thomas Jefferson, I am so indebted to that man”, and 2)”That the B-1 Bombers have not come”. I imagine he was grateful for many other things, but these he repeated in every class, usually at the start of each class. Each day, he expected the nuclear war of the early 1980s to begin, and each day so very grateful that it did not.
Expectation is tricky. I expect the overpass not to collapse, therefore I can drive over it. I expect the air quality to be breathable, so I go outside without a mask. I expect the elevator cable not to snap so I use it instead of climbing 10 flights of stairs. However, when I expect Junior to always do what I think he should, when I expect Spouse to telepathically know what my emotional needs are, when I expect to be noticed or included or whatever, things go bad, quickly. Gratitude softens expectation, and can make life better, quickly. If I begin to express thanks on the other side of the overpass, not for avoiding certain death, but because the overpass made my commute easier, my day lightens. If I express thanks for fresh, breathable air, for living where I get to enjoy what some never do, my heart lightens. If I give thanks for Junior’s clothes and Lego’s and action figures and papers strewn over the floor because they’re HIS and he’s in my life-my world changes.
There is much more that could be said of expectation: positive or negative, high or low, unrealistic & unexpressed. I don’t need to delve any deeper. For today, I’m accepting that I will continue to expect things. I’ll expect the car to be charged, that Junior will wear his Gi to karate, that the stock on the stove will finish cooking. I choose, today, to temper these, and all the other expectations, with gratitude. Additionally, I will work to accept Junior’s style of room keeping, and keep communicating with Spouse. I hope to choose this all again tomorrow.