Pigeon Tales (Vol III): Expectations

Pigeon Tales is a “special edition” of this blog, coming at you hot off the mat from yep, you guessed it…Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (known to most of us as Pigeon Pose).  As most yoga teachers will tell you while you try to find and maintain stillness in this intense pose, pigeon has a unique ability to tap into your emotional memories and bring up some pretty juicy- and often introspective- stuff.  Each edition of Pigeon Tales comes in a pure and spontaneous manner, dissecting the thoughts that cross my mind while in I give in to the release of the foundation-based chakras…those thoughts I want to share, anyway.  This is, in effect, my dream journal of those deep pigeony places.  I encourage you to try doing the same!

Expectations- you dirty devil.  We all have them, and we tag them to nearly everything.  Expectations help us make daily decisions and, if gauged correctly, can be extremely helpful.  We know when to wake up because we expect that our morning routine will proceed uninterrupted.  We know when to leave for work because we expect a given level of traffic.  But what happens when, on the way to work, we expect that the car opposite us at the intersection will follow the rules of the stoplight, and they don’t.

The thing about expectations is that they are great until they aren’t.  Some of our expectations are so routine that we hang our hats on them and don’t know how to react when they suddenly crumble.  Our expectations are so deeply ingrained in our lifestyles that the thought of ridding our lives of them feels blasphemous.  You want me to what?  It sounds like I’m asking you to give up on your dreams, right?  Not exactly.  When we are young, our parents/teachers/mentors/whathaveyou teach us about expectations by setting them for us.  They expect us to do our best and follow the rules to help us soar above the world and touch the stars.  If we fall short of their expectations, we earn the sharp slashing pain of disappointment, a routine that is often so repetitious that the wounds eventually become self-inflicted.  Their expectations of us shape our own expectations of ourselves and, to take it a step further, they end up shaping our expectations of others.  Somewhere in the midst of this domestication, we start to associate expectations (self-imposed and otherwise) with our goals.  Hence the immediate dismissal of the proposal to “quit” your expectations.

The true demise of living on expectations is that they limit our ability to react in a genuine manner.  Expectations, to any degree, form the molds that invite disappointment when life doesn’t quite fit.  We have to stop and ask ourselves who gets to decide what that mold looks like.  Allowing preconceived notions of people and places to mold our future encounters strips away the possibility of finding something more.  Loosening or releasing this notion of “how things will go” increases the ability to analyze and react to situations without that bias.  Having a plan or a dream or a goal is pertinent to a healthy and meaningful lifestyle, but unless you lead a life of clairvoyance its best to be open to various permutations of that picture-perfect finish line.

Let’s try to separate expectations and goals.  As a young adult, I am so often told not to be discouraged when things don’t go as planned because “they rarely do” or “that’s life for ya.”  Isn’t this consolation the same idea letting go of expectation?  Why is it so taboo to say that you live a life with no expectation?  Give up your expectations and something amazing might happen- i.e. the unexpected.

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