How do those words sit with you? Are you horrified or excited?
I have been expecting since the minute I stepped off the airplane in Amsterdam one year ago. Already blessed with a long list of reasons to be happy, I was moving in a new direction expecting a completely new experience. Very quickly, I found my expectations and actualities were on two different pages but discovered that never the two shall meet.
In the dream of moving to Europe, there were high expectations of a whirlwind of fabulous wine, food, landscapes, languages, laughs, explorations, meeting exotic new friends, travels and experiences. Unexpectedly, almost exactly one year later, I find myself living a rather normal life. Sure, it’s not in my birth country, but my day-to-day existence has not really shifted. Nor has my language. The only thing that has moved in any direction is my weight and bank account.
Not one of the three psychics I saw before I left mentioned the biggest lesson I would have to learn is the acceptance that the more things change; the more things stay the same.
The checklist of how my life is different from December 10, 2009 includes value priced wine, climate, living without a clothes dryer and polished hunting skills to find favourite foods. Nothing spectacular to write on a postcard from this edge.
The checklist of how it’s the same includes cooking, cleaning, laundry, paying bills, dealing with long absences with Wayne, arguing with the bathroom scale and chatting with friends on Facebook. (Albeit with a fabulous view of the Mediterranean and a quick flight to see my children, along with other little perks.) The rhythm of life never did entirely abandon us, as much as I sometimes wanted it to.
The shift of expectations to compromise slowly seeped into our lives. It’s exhausting living in a strange country; existing is very much different from visiting. Everything takes twice as much effort, for example spending all day on the phone to simply set up an internet connection. Or wasting a whole morning negotiating to open a bank account. Or resetting your Blackberry to English, again. How about relearning actions you take for granted and by rote, all are now under new circumstances, such as becoming comfortable with the lay of the land and directions.
Didn’t see or count on the exhaustion factor in my dreams of living in Europe at all, which made it even easier to simply become complacent and take the so-called ‘easy’ way out. This feeling of walking around in mud-caked rubber boots lead us settling for a one-year lease on a villa rental, giving us time to re-group, re-think and re-plan. In addition, now I don’t have to apply for internet connection or change banks for another year.
What are you expecting in your life? Has anything that you expected ever really turned out the way you envisioned it to be? Interestingly enough, unexpected events are just as mysterious to us as expected events. The words expected and unexpected can be used interchangeably in some circumstances. Ergo: I expected someone else to do the laundry. Alas, it was unexpected that I had still had to do laundry. Both sentences in fact, mean literally same thing.
Our expectations of how life should be, or only would be, can set us up for disappointment more times than we care to consider. However, expecting to never have expectations is setting you up for more expectations of disappointment as expectations are human nature. (Got that?) Moreover, sometimes expectations do come true. When we cook a meal, we expect it will be successful, and it is. When we jump in the car to go for a drive, we expect it will start and we will be on our way. When we drink too much cheap wine, we expect to have a hangover or at the very least a solid headache.
Expectations have taken some of the joy and gratitude from what I do have; the expectations that swirl in my mind only created regrets and frustrations. But the good news is that I now recognise it for what it is; pressures to not live in the moment. Expectations suck all the surprise out of life and leave guilt and frustrations.
I expected to write on my blog at the very minimum every two weeks. It’s now been 5 months. I expected to have a on-line website up and running and contributing to the budget by now. Nope, running just a ‘little’ behind on that one. I expected to have lived in at least two countries by now. Well, does two villas in Spain count?
At the start of year two of this great adventure, which is evolving into more of a respectable adventure, I find I am more accepting of what is and what will be. Now, instead of expecting, I am wishing. Not wishing my life away type of wishing, simply wishing for more of what I want and less of what I don’t. Morphing the word expectations into wishes, sounds softer and more joyful with no expectations implied. Besides, it will be utterly unexpected if my wish actually does comes true. In other words, I have no expectations the wish will come true. UGGGH…