‘A desert is a place without expectation.’
~ Nadine Gordimer
I am a mountain girl.
Not only does this mean that I find the beautiful in majestic snow-covered peaks, monumental boulders and expansive woodlands but it also means that I find the common, the banal, the (dare I admit it?) the mundane.
I know! Presented with such grandiose splendor how could I ever take it for granted? How could it just fade into the backdrop?
But being a mountain girl is exactly the problem. With such blatant glory as the setting for all of my days, all of my routine, all of my own ordinary… they can sometimes become ordinary too.
So you can imagine why I never gave any thought to the desert. Promoted as being barren and desolate with little to no life, little to no color… How could that be beautiful in comparison to the brilliant and luxurious mountains that are at times not enough to capture my attention?
And so I was in my thirties before I was startled aware by the the exceptional loveliness of the desert. The delicacy of the microscopic life there, the subtlety of the many shades of orange and gold that exist in the world, the unexplored depth of the sky… or earth… or self…
And I learned that without expectation, I was greeted with wonder and novelty and delight.
I have been thinking about expectation and the fact that it doesn’t seem to offer me any benefit.
Either I have high and hopeful expectations… As have been my expectations that my partner will do what he said and at least consult the medical professionals to determine his current state of health.
And these expectations,of something out of my control, seem to be directly tied to disappointment and frustration. Like those I am experiencing nearly two weeks after that promise and two more canceled appointments later…
Or I have extremely low, nearly dismal expectations… As I have been having with my on-going state of unemployment. Bemoaning being a highly-skilled specialist in a very narrow field and becoming increasingly discouraged by not even being able to find work in a ‘menial, meaningless’ position.
The end result of this sort of expectation is typically that something unexpected and rewarding causes me to deride myself for my fear and lack of faith in the universe. But then I am ridiculing myself and have already spent countless hours awake in anxiety…
No. Neither one of these situations seems to be an advantageous use of my time or energy or spirit.
And so, I have decided to rid myself of expectation.
I am going to focus instead on the things I can control. Who I am. How I perceive the world and recognize all of its mystery and wonder. What I have to offer right here and now. How to welcome each moment as a new discovery. How to remain open and faithful to the certainty that there are microcosms and macrocosms spinning around me whose splendor I will know when I need to .