I always thought I was a master at managing my expectations.
Since my teenage years, I worked hard to calculate the expected outcome of any big change or life event and how this would affect me and my life . On the outside this was a defensive mechanism; allowing me to prepare for the worst and impliment any damage control. Inside there is a slimier, more self-satisfied purpose: allowing me to revel in all the expected greatness and good that said event would surely achieve.
My carefully constructed expectations helped me build a path towards enlightenment; ticking off the steps to being the ‘best’ version of me I could possibly be.
At least, that’s what I thought I was building.
In fact I was creating a cage; its bars made of polished pessimism and perpetual dissapointment. I was planning out the shape of my future and leaving no room for actual creativity and growth. All the magic moments likely passed me by because I was too busy bemoaning the loss of my carefuly constructed blueprint. There’s little room for happiness in a life so very ‘well’ managed.
It is so easy to forget that we are not seperate beings but an active part of Nature’s cycles and as such there is no amount of ‘managing’ that can be do a better job than She. That the term exists in our language – ‘man-aging’ – is a testament to our Human arrogance and a profound disconnection from (and some might say fear of) Her.
It is little surprise then that when I tried to apply such foolhardy notions of control to two of the most natural experiences in my life – Birth and Spirituality – I came away baffled, bamboozled and downright disappointed; about ready to shred the blueprint and go banging on the door of some metaphysical middle manager who had apparently read it all wrong and royally screwed up all my gloriously well-crafted expectations.
But I didn’t*. Instead I took a breath, took a big, big step back and did that thing that I realise I’ve been shy and wary of my whole life… I looked at me, as I am, in the moment. Just me; with no blueprint, no scale to measure up against.
And what do I see?
I see confidence where once there was constant concern for how I was percieved, whether I was understood. And not that cheap, oily, plastic brand of confidence that they write about in teen magazines, but the real, soul-deep certainty that you are who you are and damn if that isn’t someone worth the oxygen and floor space they’ve been assigned.
I see strength, displayed in ways I could never have predicted. It may not have been strength enough to push out my well-fed 9lb baby, after 15hrs active labour, without a little medical assistance… but it is a strength that has allowed me to keep him well-fed, to hold him close and watch him thrive and to feed, feed, feed for entire days on less than 4 hours sleep.
And somehow still love him at the end of it.
I see determination in my rabid-dog readiness to fling a heavy vase at that skeevy stranger’s head if he goes near my husband or my boy one more time.
This coming from the girl who has never said boo to a goose (or any other wildfowl for that matter).
Above all I see truth; that elusive benchmark I have always reached for but often felt unable to hold on to in the face of peer-pressure or the unforgiving harshness of modern reality.
I live a life brightened every day by my commitment to a spiritual path, walking the Wheel and holding an awareness of the awe and beauty of it all close to my heart. You’d be hard pressed to fit me into a box or under a label (even Pagan doesn’t feel quite right anymore) but that no londer feels like a lack. I wear my green spirit proudly and kindly and I do my best to let it colour all the moments of my day. It’s then that I realise that me, my life and this World are so, so beautiful.
Of course sometimes I fail. I find myself reaching for the blueprint over and over again; nervous habit. But there is a steadiness in me now that is perhaps age, wisdom, woman-ness or motherhood – or a combination of them all -that allows me to see past the supposed-sacredness of those expectations. To meet the gaze of Mother Nature head on (seeing a glimmer of my self there in those fathomless eyes) and to keep tearing strips from it until one day it will be gone. Then there will be no plan, nothing to manage, just a handful of confetti to throw in celebration.
Free at last.
*Okay, maybe I did, for a little while but I’m over it now and feeling the good flowing ju-ju. I’m enlightened I tell ya!
1) culturedecanted.com 2) Jokeroo 3) K.Tomlin 4) K.Tomlin