One of the qualities I admire most in my young children is their ability to live life with the ultimate “que sera, sera” attitude. They wake up in the morning and their job is to just show up. Whatever we end up doing, they have fun. They don’t hold an ideal in their head of how events will unfold, how they will be treated or perceived by others, how the weather will cooperate. In their minds, whatever ends up happening was the only option to begin with. Our picnic might get rained on, their best friend might be mean to them, our day trip might get delayed with traffic. Yet they held no expectation, they are not pressured to have things go a certain way, so they are not overcome with disappointment.
I understand that as they grow older their attitudes will mature. Disappointment will come. But is there a way to remain so easy going? I look at them now and think how freeing it would be.
Over the years I have gotten a lot better at letting go of the expectations I create in my life – expectations for special events, holidays, relationships, date nights, get togethers, parties. I used to not be aware of these expectations, which caused me a lot of grief.
Holidays were never as perfectly cozy as I imagined, date nights never as romantic, friendships never as deep and open and honest, vacations never as inspiring. Because I entered life with all of these ideals, I was left with a lot of disappointment. It was not uncommon to see me at a lovely restaurant with my husband with a frown on my face. Maybe the meal wasn’t as delicious as I dreamed, our conversation not as interesting, my outfit not as charming.
I look back at these times and think how sad. How sad that I wasn’t able to see the error in my ways. The danger of approaching life with such grand expectations.
I was out recently for dinner with a couple of girlfriends. I had been to the restaurant once before and immediately loved its’ European menu and pretty decor. I was excited to order the mushroom risotto, intending to memorize its texture and flavour so that I could attempt at recreating it at home. Our dishes arrived and I was slightly disappointed at the sight of peas and corn in my risotto – it reminded me of a meal I would throw together for my kids using whatever vegetables I could find in the freezer. I took my first bite and the bland taste that met my mouth shocked me. I searched for the salt on the table but there was none. This risotto was bad. It was not worth the price I ended up paying for it. But I didn’t let this ruin my night out. I enjoyed the company of my friends as we sat around the table talking about travel and kids. I went home craving something sweet to resuscitate my tastebuds, but my night was not ruined.
I still hold ideals in my head, but am more aware of their existence. I am better able to label them as what they are – ideals – and what they are not – reality. When things go awry, as they most inevitably do, I am able to move past. And I keep going. I am better at being content when my expectations are not met.
Now I hold the life-changing knowledge that when life hands me bad risottos, I will go home and make my own.