The Pendulum of Expecation

The ability to feel excitement or be excited about something is supposed to be a trait of a positive person. Being excited about something assumes that there is a positive expectation attached to whatever we are excited about. “It’s going to be great!” We’re going to see a World Series game! How excited are we when the team we’re rooting for gets slaughtered? How excited are we when the line for the roller coaster we specifically came to the amusement park is visible from space? How excited are when after waiting over three hours, they closed the ride for maintenance? How excited are we when buy tickets for the most talked-about Broadway show a year in advance, only to hear over the loud-speaker when we arrive at the theater that the lead role in today’s performance is being played by the understudy?

If expectation is the root of disappointment, excitement is then the fuel of expectation. Why not adopt the mindset of simply being opening to the experiences that come our way? Why taint our experiences with ruinous expectations? Whether we are excited or dreading an upcoming experience, our expectations are ruinous all the same. It’s like a trial lawyer leading the witness with a line of questioning. It’s trying to force an outcome. When we lead up to experiences with expectations, the experiences now has the pressure of living up to what our imaginations have created. Imagination is defined as “the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.” The words “not present” stick out in that definition. Being present doesn’t require imagination. It requires a stillness of thought. Thoughts that are constantly trying to judge an experience as it unfolds are being good or bad. Should we be excited or disappointed right now? If we allow ourselves to be at the mercy of our expectations, we’ll forever be pendulums oscillating between extremes. We can still enjoy the game as it unfolds even if our team loses in the end. We can still enjoy the play even though the star we came to see didn’t perform. We can still enjoy the other rides and time spent with friends if we don’t get to ride the one ride we all came to the amusement park for.

Being excited about something sounds good. Being open to everything is good.

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Aspiring Stoic and Doting Father

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