There is definitely a nip in the air around me and a front of change churning within as I enter the final term of the word expectation for this year. (The prior excerpts are here, here, and here). So much has happened over the course of my tenure with this word that I'm a bit overwhelmed at this writing. I have bounced the word off of each event over the year and it has become like trying to track refracted sparks flying off of a flaming whirligig set afire in a dark space. Living a life with minimal expectations has moved me into a different reality. The farther into it I get, the odder my old lifestyle appears to me. The framing of expectations that I sported in the world that I inhabited before all these changes, strike me as oddly unrealistic and even naive to me now.
I suppose the best place to start for an example is the present; a situation I recently found myself in. I broke or tore a tendon in my little finger on my right hand and by chance I found myself in a health care facility for an unrelated issue. When the nurse inquired as to the brace on my finger and I told her what my treatment for it was, she bridled with such a force of outraged indignation over my not having consulted a healthcare professional that I was briefly stunned. I sat attentive to a litany of surgical procedures that may be necessary and the importance of fixing this thing immediately. I listened respectfully but in my mind I thought to myself, with horror, "there but for the grace of God!" There was no one but my common sense to stop me from following this woman's advice and very possibly loosing my home in the attempt to pay for an uninsured $25,000.00 surgery to repair the tip of my little finger. It, no doubt, had been awhile since this nurse had walked the world trying to maintain her balance in rarefied air without a net. People have been smashing, cutting off and experiencing all kinds of injuries to digits since time began. It is not the end of the world should a finger receive a little damage as I'm not a musician, surgeon or fine artist. The entirety of this nurse's focus was on maintaining her stand within a certain expectation of her trade and it did not allow her to consider my reality. She was blind to it. Any other way to look at the injury to my finger along with my personal situation seemed to have a tinge of heresy and, indeed, a possible threat of liability to her.
My experiences with expectations have been like that; a constant awareness of not what I lost over the year, but what I've gained in letting go of them. The things I lost were a sense of imaginary security, money that I didn't handle well when I had it, frankly, and the need to design my thinking around an established lifestyle of belonging. In replace of that, I gained a greater scope of understanding, time to think for myself and room in my life to cultivate compassion and empathy.
I can relate to where the nurse is coming from because I've been there. Now that I've spent some time in a more robust current in the river over time, I recognize the limitations that the eddies of associations nurture. Had I been insured I would have set up the whole surgery thing and altered my lifestyle around this health issue and who's to say that I wouldn't get an infection of MRSA as a complication from the surgery, become sick and possibly die? It happens not that infrequently. Sincerely, the tip of my little finger wandering slightly south for the rest of my live long days is something I can live with. What is startling is the realization that but for my willingness to hold to what I thought to be the most pragmatic option for my particular situation, I could be homeless with ruined credit with a little finger that was perfect...all because I did what I was advised by a "professional".
Such are my experiences these days as I wander through life outside of the projected mind set that I had become accustomed to. I can appreciate a sheltered life living within the established parameters of acceptance but I'm deeply satisfied that I found the courage to leave the coveted and controlled expectant world - the blind one - for one that requires strength and asks for my hope, faith and vision.
...the morning dove is clinging To the powerlines above And time is hanging frozen In its grace and pain and love....
Peter Mulvey, "Tender Blindspot", The Trouble with Poets
appreciation to JKPolk1 for the video of Peter Mulvey