Expectations are a funny thing and they crop up everywhere. I've written about expectations before but it is a topic that is worth revisiting. Perhaps for my own catharsis and because someone else might need the reminder too.
We have expectations for most things in our lives. I like to claim I have no expectations, as a cursory defense mechanism against disappointment, but I think for most of us it's relatively impossible not to walk through life without some expectation for how we want events to turn out. I think some expectations are helpful and healthy to some extent. "I expect to be physically safe", or "I expect my partner to love me" are reasonable expectations for human contact. However, I think most expectations are shoulds in sheep's clothing. And we all know what shoulds can do to us.
In fact if we replace "should" everywhere an "expect" crops up (exercising good grammatical form of course ("My partner should love me" or " I should be physically safe" rather than I should my partner to love me" which makes no sense...but I majorly digress) . I think we'd be surprised how often we are letting our shoulds dictate our emotional landscape. Expectations, along with shoulds, are fine until they turn on us (and they usually do.) As soon as someone does something we don't like, or life hands us something that we didn't "expect" we enter into a variety of emotional "stories", most of them unhappy.
Our expectations about life are usually masks for our idealism. I think idealism is what makes us strive for improvement. I also think idealism can quickly become self-defeating. I talk a lot about entering into a war with reality, and 9/10 our idealism, good intentions, goals and expectations are weapons of war. "I expect that my children shouldn't suffer". Well, good luck with that one. Children (and you) will suffer, or they won't. Our expectations don't have diddley to do with it.
Some expectations, as I mentioned, seem reasonable. "I expect people not to break into my home and steal my things." But what is the story you tell yourself when they do? How unsafe, unfair, cruel and wrong life/other people/God is? At this point our expectation turns to venom, and the primary victim is our peace. We've been disappointed by our expectation and in a gross turn of violent revenge we use it as a weapon of war.
So what would a mind look like without expectation? Peaceful? Free? Oppen? All of the above? Free from an idea of how things "should" turn out and as such, open to what unfolds, at peace with the way of life.
We all have preferences. We prefer this food or that food, to be safe, loved, secure, healthy and to have a safe place to sleep. But if you are sick, hungry and apparently unsafe your expectation and idea about what should be happening keeps you in resistance. You box reality, with your expectations as your gloves.
I talk a lot about surrender. People hate the word because it feels like we're losing something. It feels like an act of passive resignation. While yes, we can surrender in the spirit of exhaustion, fear, or lack of will (which is the lower spectrum of surrenderance) or we can surrender to what is in the knowledge that whatever is happening is precisely what we needed. This is an act of high surrender, and will always allow us access to our highest wisdom and peace. This type of surrender lets us know that what we expected isn't what we needed.
How do you know it's not what you needed? Because its not what you got. If it so happened to be what you wanted, congratulations, you're in line with the flow of life. What would life be like if we only wanted what happens? Think about it, no more fighting with reality. Our expectation would then be to expect what happens. Nothing more, nothing less.
If there's something we need to do to change a situation to meet a preference, by all means move to do that. But expect what happens. If you move out of the state of expectation (which is ultimately out of the present moment) you move into the Now. Really there can be no expectation in the present moment because nothing else can (ever did or ever will) exist outside of what is happening currently. So life becomes a constant gift.
Expect the gift of the present. Accept nothing less. It's your birthright, and its been sitting right in front of you the whole time.