My wife and I made our first Airbnb booking recently. We researched various sites on the internet, jotting down pros and cons as we went along. We had booked through VRBO before and were impressed with their consistent standard, but they had no properties listed in the travel area. The other option of a hotel just proved too costly for our length of stay. Knowing we would be doing some family entertaining we needed space so we picked a property listed as ‘An entire house!’ We had an expectation based on it being ‘An entire house!’
I find that people who say they never have expectations are lying. Everyone has expectations for themselves: Not many people refer to themselves as a total screw-up. Everybody expects to move through their day with most of their needs being met. We may not get all that we want but we expect we will not die trying. When someone tells us something, at first at least, we believe them. We expect that they are telling us the truth. Having an expectation for ourselves and of others leads to trust when that expectation is fulfilled on a consistent basis. For example when I visit a friend I have a simple expectation that I will be greeted with a welcoming gesture. If that is not forthcoming, over time, I will cease to visit.
A worry free philosophy isn’t realistic. If we say we don’t expect anything from anyone I wonder where that leads us as a community. I suspect a period of reduced expectations leads to stifling disappointment and chronic despair. At the other end of that spectrum is an obsession with fulfilling an expectation we have for ourselves. That can also be crippling: We must face each day feeling that we can ‘measure up’.
When we hear the declaration, “I’m expecting!”, all manner of expectant thoughts start to percolate. Hope is never greater than when we hear news of an impending birth. We wish the parent-to-be the very best because we expect the outcome will be practically perfect in every way. We want to believe in great expectations. Every life deserves an existence set to the highest standard. I’ve never heard a teacher say to her students on opening day, “I don’t expect much from you this year.” When I don’t live up to the expectations I have for myself, I let myself down and I feel I disappoint others around me. Having an expectation means you’re looking for the best.
Just as we have been instructed by our parents, we expect our children will behave for good reasons. We all have felt the sting of an elder suggesting that they felt disappointment in us after we had made a poor decision. The positive message being; I understand the value of standards.
Honesty is a value I hold to a high standard. The Airbnb ad was not accurate: It wasn’t a whole house. It wasn’t clean. It only had one closet! I was disappointed. I will learn from it.
My first thought when I think of this word is the song Memory from the hit Broadway musical Cats. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-L6rEm0rnY
I haven’t seen the staged play, yet the song haunts. I feel a yearning upon hearing the opening chords. The words in the verses take me on tangents as I relate them to moments in my life. I wonder if the tug of emotion comes from my own memories and the sentimentality that comes from travelling to my past. Christmas with all its familiarities makes it easy to stroll down memory lane. There are musical triggers, baking triggers, alcohol triggers, shopping triggers; all can lead you down a dark alley. Thank goodness for fairy lights to guide us safely home again!
The busy activity of holiday preparation acts to keep us cheerful. We can’t help but anticipate joyful reunions. Yet the temporal reality can get us feeling a bit maudlin can’t it? Some days seem so short that it feels like the sun has hardly made any effort to rise. On those occasions I have a struggle getting out of my bathrobe; morning coffee turns to breakfast, early lunch, supper feels right at 4pm and gosh it is night again. It’s easy to retreat to the comfort of bed, wishing some happy memory replays through REM sleep.
My memory confounds me. Sometimes while working on a crossword I’ll remember an answer from a clue, baffling myself as to how I could possibly recall something so obscure. Later I might forget where I set down my glasses. I dread the thought that dementia may come calling as I advance in years, erasing some of the memories that I cherish.
Yet sometimes there is joy in rediscovery.
As a youngster I was gripped by the brief television series about amnesia called Coronet Blue. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghkOAZjNFEU
Other films like Groundhog Day and Fifty First Dates have captured memory loss in a humorous way. Currently I chuckle at the JIF peanut butter ads. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjnM7PWQ-YE
Memory connects us to time. We take selfies with our mind’s eye every single second. Some shots are quickly discarded, some become blurred with time, while the best of the best are kept safe, like that Kodak or Polaroid snap from our youth. We bring these memories out when we need reminding of how much we have to be thankful for. The Christmas of 2006 contains some of my fondest remembrances: I had just retired from a career in teaching, extended family gathered for one last big hurrah at the homestead, stories of past and present were blended with hopes for the future.
I’ve just read an excellent biography of Buffy Saint Marie by Andrea Warner emphasizing Buffy ‘The Philosopher’. The author allows us to listen as this talented song writer and activist crystallizes her memories down to two personal keys of life: Gratitude and Wonder.
Your memoir, created from words and experiences only you know, awaits publication.
In the column of values that define me, Generosity is low on the list. I can be very selfish when it comes to my material possessions: My belongings are just that, my belongings. I think of my house the same way I think of my clothes: I wouldn’t want anyone to put their hands in my pockets. It’s almost a question of privacy. I like to provide for people when they are my guests, but I can’t seem to use the phrase ‘make yourself at home’. I do envy those with such big hearts they can shout, “Mi Casa Su Casa”. These folk likely believe that what you give comes back to you. And I believe that too. However, being an introvert by nature also makes me timid about opening wide too many doors at once.
I’ve been told I am a good host. I’m attentive and often a good listener.
My dad taught me that the best thing you can do for someone is to make them feel they are special. When someone is in my company I try to keep the focus on them. I’d actually call myself bashful if the focus turns to me so I’m more comfortable asking questions that lead to storytelling.
I once got an evil eye for commenting about a heaping plate of salad, “That’s a generous helping you have there”. I can certainly be generous with my opinions. I try to appreciate that being opinionated can be construed as being judgemental yet I so often find that life is just such a big, sometimes overwhelming, bag of curiosities. I don’t have the time or desire to proclaim judgement, just to comment.
I wonder if one can be generous in receiving? If so then I can do that. I think that’s what makes me a great audience member. I have the utmost respect for performance, which is in itself, an act of giving generously. I get such a thrill after a show, if I can speak to the artist personally about what their effort has meant to me. Certainly I am one who is generous with praise. Some would say lavish and others might say I am too gushy. No matter, my generosity extends to cheering on my fellow citizens whenever I see the merit, and I refuse to hold back. Those who are willing to make themselves seen; either in politics, sport, art or as a citizen concerned with justice, deserve to be acknowledged for their effort and leadership. I do not wish to wait to sing someone’s praises after their death.
One of the quickest ways to feel a part of a new community is to volunteer. Giving generously of your time and talent gives a boost to you and others. Since retiring I have found great value in volunteering. I have enjoyed working in this way with several groups who have shown respect for my generosity by inviting me into their special world. This in turn has made my world larger and more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.