Monday, February 1, 2021

Expectation

A few days ago, I flipped back through my journal to the entries I made this time last year. It was interesting to revisit what I was thinking about at the start of 2020, and particularly, the expectations  that lay beneath.


My sweet, innocent little journal

I had hopes and a few plans for how I would steer my life and what I would accomplish. Underlying those aspirations was one key expectation: that the foundations of daily life would, more or less, continue as they had been.

By the beginning of March, all of our expectations were out the window. But I think we all hoped, and innocently thought, that the disruption of our daily lives by the pandemic wouldn't last long. A few months and we'd be back to "normal."

Closing in on a year later, we - I - couldn't have been more wrong. Normal is gone. Daily life is completely different. So much has changed. And we're still in it.




As a yoga teacher and long-time practitioner, I practice with and teach the concept of impermanence on a regular basis. It's at the heart of yoga, this idea of coming to accept that, in time, everything changes, everything ends, and something new begins. The practice of not clinging to - or rejecting - what is. The practice of acceptance. But it's an intellectual exercise until something comes along that forces us to really put it into practice - like a pandemic! 

I think back to the many expectations I had for my life - hopes, dreams, plans. I worked hard to make many dreams come true. I implemented many plans quite well. But nothing, not one single thing I had imagined, was as I had expected it would be.

I expected that when I realized my material dreams, I would be happy. I wasn't! 

I expected that my parents would live to a ripe old age, safe and happy in the home they raised us in, and die peacefully in their sleep. I never saw my mother's Alzheimer's or my dad's stroke coming.

When we worried about Dick's health, it was about his heart. His dad died of a heart attack in his early 60's, and Dick had a small one at the age of 49. He's had no heart issues since, but what we never expected was Parkinson's.

2020 may have brought you many changes that have been and remain extremely difficult. Or, it may have caused you to look at how you were living and make changes for the better. Either way, I guarantee your life over the past year was not a bit like what you expected. Mine either.

Once we emerge from the pandemic - which we will, because this too shall pass - I don't think anyone could blame us for wanting to feel "safe" again, even if safe is an illusion. We never know what will happen. So we have to find a way to incorporate our newly heightened awareness of impermanence into how we go about our daily lives, without it being limiting or debilitating.

2020 gave us a lesson in non-attachment and acceptance that we won't soon forget, and I don't think that's a bad thing. I know that I feel a much greater sense of what Pema Chodron calls, "the comings and goings of things." And I am deeply reminded not to take anything for granted.

When thinking about my "E" post, I kept thinking about elephants. In yoga, Ganesha, the elephant god, is the remover of obstacles and the bringer of abundance. So, here's a picture of cute baby elephants and one of Ganesha.









6 comments:

  1. For the past 2 years, I've been using a five-year diary - which just about fits tweet-sized nuggets in each daily box. It's interesting reading last year's entries, knowing what will happen. I often ask Future Me questions, and I don't like this year's answers. I also never expected that my dad wouldn't see this new year.

    I think our strength and resilience will help enormously is the new world we'll emerge into. I kind of hope we won't go fully back to how it was before.

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    1. Oh Annalisa, did I know about your dad? I'm so sorry. I have no desire to go back to how things were before. I made some choices for a simpler life, and I think they will help me navigate not only new "normal" but also the unexpected. xo

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  2. Navigating the unexpected so often feels like walking a tightrope to me. I really, really don't like it but, having no choice, accept it.
    And wobble on.

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    1. I really, really don't like it either!!! We will wobble on together....

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  3. You always have good words, Melissa, thank you! Especially for the baby elephants❤

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    1. Not much in this world that's cuter than baby elephants~!

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