Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Great Expectations

"Our lives are shaped not as much by our experience, as by our expectations."
-George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright, socialist



Consider...

...your life up until this point. How old are you? 22? 35? 57? When you were younger did you picture yourself at where you are at this moment? Did you see yourself sitting in front of your computer, reading some nobody's blog post only because you're excruciatingly bored? Probably not.

Consider...

...your situation. Are you married? Are you in a bachelor pad? Are you in college? Are you employed? Do you have a friend you could call right now if you really needed to talk to someone? Now ask - is this where you saw your life taking you when you were younger? What did you expect? I know I didn't expect to be back living with my parents at the ripe old age of 22, sitting at the same desk I sat at when I was 10, listening to David Cook and writing a blog post I think maybe six people will read (sucks for you, I know, realizing you're one of six people who read this crap).

Consider...

...the last movie you saw. What were your expectations going in to the theater (or turning on Hulu)? Were you really excited? Did it live up to your expectations and then fall just short, thereby making it a lesser experience? Or did you not expect anything and realized at the end that you were pleasantly surprised?

I prefer to be one of the latter. I go through life trying to limit my expectations. Not out of fear. Not out of cowardice. Out of a realization that you should go into everything with an open mind, and also that life rarely lives up to expectations. And when it does, most times it's just for a few seconds (a kiss) or minutes (a song) or hours (sex...if you have the stamina) or days (weekend vacation) or months (a new job) and then you're back to square one of your emotional rubik's cube. This sounds pessimistic, it sounds depressing, but it's true.

You graduate college. You come off the high of finishing the ride, having lived your college experience to the fullest. You have a job. You go into this job high on life - your life is beginning!! This is it!! I can't wait to see where I go and what I do and how successful I am and who I marry and..........WTF? I'm 30 already? Son of a bitch!

Did the past eight or nine years of your life live up to what you saw as you crossed the stage at graduation, taking the diploma from a man in a luxurious robe whom you've probably never met? Was your 9-5 your dream job? Was it what you wanted to do at the time? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe you had good days and maybe you had bad days. I don't know - but you do.

I would like to share some truths with you that may depress you, but should ultimately make you happier once you come to accept them for the reality they represent:
  • Life is not one continuous stream of happiness - get used to it
  • Life is disjointed - you'll be happy one minute, sad the next, then feel nothing. why?
  • Your mind is your enemy - you must learn to control it or you will lose control of your own thoughts, of your own actions
  • Your thoughts shackle your heart - free your mind and let your heart be the bellwether of your life
You want to achieve greatness. We all do. But in order to achieve greatness, you have to be working toward it in the present. Each moment of your life is irreplaceable, so be present for it as much as possible.

By telling you to expect less I'm not saying to not chase your dreams and reach for the stars and all that mumbo jumbo. Start small with this, clear your mind of preconceived notions and expectations, and see where it gets you - I have a feeling you'll be pleasantly surprised.

6 comments:

Matt Barnes said...

Great post. Couldn't agree more. I also love the link to the wikipedia page for the vocab-challenged like myself.

Bethany and Nadine said...

I really enjoyed this post. It's very philosophical. I find myself thinking about things like this all the time.... it's crazy to think about what life has in store of us and if one day we will end up as we hoped when we thought about ourselves when we were young

A Freebird said...

Thanks for the comments guys.

Bethany and Nadine - don't think about how you'll end up. Think about how you are. ARE you how you once hoped you would be? We're always working TOWARD something. Try BEING that something. If you ARE that something, your goals and dreams will be realized.

TaylorLauren said...

I really enjoyed this, although I would word my outlook a little differently - I just like to think (in vague terms) that the best is yet to come. Whatever that is, I'm pretty open to. I try to remain flexible but optimistic. But again, great post, and I'll probably want to slow down and sift through those questions you raised one more time.

Heather Farr said...

Whoa, glad I ran into this! I couldn't agree more. Although I like to think I'm pretty optimistic, I've recently learned not to plan too far in advance. Feeling, plans, ideas, goals, chance so quickly that it's best to just let it be.

Courtney said...

Looks like I'm the lucky sixth person to read this insightful piece, jhizzle.

I was just talking to someone last week about expectations; when you least expect it, the best things happen...and everything happens for a reason, right?