“I am open to the guidance of synchronicity, and do not let expectations hinder my path.” -Dalai Lama
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about expectations. Having done some reading over the past couple of years on the topic of Buddhism, I am familiar with the concepts of right view and wrong view. Right view is when we see things simply, as they are. It is an attitude of openness, where anger and fear almost fade away completely. The opposite of this is wrong view; a view that is characterized by expectations. Expectations (usually unmet) of how we wish things to be, and fear of what might be.
I have realized that when my rheumatoid arthritis is quite active and times are rough, I’ve begun to adopt a mentality of right view. When I go to sleep at night, instead of creating my list of things to do for the following day, I tell myself that I will only do whatever I can do, and that I will be happy with that. It took me years to reach this place, all too often I continued to try to push through the limitations of my disability…but now I know the happiness of savoring my daily actions, even then they are “limited” to taking a bath, dressing myself, and walking from room to room around the house.
Over the past month, as my body has been doing much better than usual, I have found myself returning to the wrong view. I start imagining all of the things that I should be doing (where the heck that voice pops up from, I do not know), and I attempt to do them. I start to once again push myself too hard, and I begin to lose the pleasure of enjoying simple things.
Just this morning, as I was at the gym lifting weights, my joints started flaring up one by one. (I think this was due not to anything I have been doing physically, but instead because of a considerable temperature drop that took place today as the southern hemisphere moves into winter.) My first thought was to pack up and go home right away, but then I had a second thought. Instead of using “real” weights, I’d work out instead with those brightly-colored dumbbell weights that weigh only a few pounds each. In the past I would have felt ashamed (as I was not meeting expectations); this morning I was happy to just be moving.
My 88-year-old grandmother passed away a couple of days ago. When I spoke with my grandfather the following morning, he told me how he wished that she had lived to reach their 70th wedding anniversary, which was only a few months away. He quickly caught what he was saying, and then told me that we should all be happy with what we’re given. That we need to focus on what we do have, and not on what we don’t have.
They weren’t married 70 years…but they were married 69 years and 8 months. In my opinion, that’s still quite a feat!
Happy with what we’re given. No expectations. This is certainly not the type of life that I have lead in the past, but it’s definitely nice to be living this kind of life at the moment.
May my grandmother rest in peace.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!