Thursday, June 18, 2009
12:33 PM |
Life has taught me that the rule for enjoying the most out of life in all its unpredictability is simple, yet also most paradoxical: the least of expectations bear the maximum of joy. It’s like going about your way to buy a lowly ice candy—and end up with a gallon of Hazelnut Brownie ice cream, given free.
Of course, I also believe that this is not always true. As what I frequently tell my friend Moe, who is the foremost advocate of this philosophy, “Without expectations, where is hope?”
He tells me, “Hope and expectation are not the same.”
And I say, “But I can’t not always have expectations. I’m obsessive compulsive. It’s in my nature to want things done in a specific way.”
“And that’s why you’re always going crazy.”
Point well taken.
Most days, I believe him. There is an absolute—shall I say ecstatic?—feeling of freedom in letting go, in just flinging caution to the wind, and in following where that wind leads you. This is difficult to do when one has a penchant for things constant and certain. But I have learned, somehow, to follow where my feet lead me, to say yes to the slightest invitation or provocation, to do magic with things almost at the breaking end of chaos. I have gone on trips that way—and I find that sometimes getting lost and finding your way around unexpected things become the destination itself.
But this has not always been the case for the life I’ve led: there had been years—especially the most recent ones—when existence was quite routine. (There’s a reason why they call it “settling down.”) Work, home. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, midnight snack. Feed the pets, watch television, buy a DVD, date with the significant other. Sometimes, there is a show or two to watch, and sometimes there is dinner with friends. Mondays are the same as Thursdays, or any of the other days. Sometimes only Saturdays are different, but only sometimes. I tell you—routine. (This is not a complaint, just honest observation.)
And then life changed in the most unexpected ways. The locus of your life is suddenly out of the picture—and you are left, scrambling just so, to fill the suddenly gaping void. Yet I have been lucky to have all manner of fulfillment that has exceeded whatever I could have hoped for. And now each day begins and ends with surprises, mostly good ones. Sometimes there are days when I would tell a friend: “I don’t really know how each of my days turn out. They’re all so different, all the time.”
That friend would say, “Maybe you’re overcompensating for those years.”
“Maybe I am. But this is nice, isn’t it?”
“As long as you’re happy. Are you happy?”
“I am. Or else why am I smiling this way.”
“You look like a cat that just ate a bird.”
We need the madness of no expectations. It may be the truest way to live—because it is what keeps you on your toes, and, paradoxically, what drives you to do and dream of bigger things without the searing danger of disappointment.
 This is Where You Bite the Sandwich
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