Exercising Expectations and Leaving Room for Delight

Exercising Expectations and Leaving Room for Delight

Photo by Milivoj Kuhar on Unsplash

I may be alone in having expectations, but I highly doubt it. Wouldn’t it be difficult to get through an entire day without having any expectations at all? It’s been touted that life would be easier having fewer of them.

I expect to wake up and head for the coffee machine. I expect to reinforce my intentions of promoting inner peace (hopefully leading to outer peace) through meditation. I expect to give my best to what I’m painting at any given time. I expect to check my ego at the door before heading out to join the world at large. As we all know by now, we strive to meet our best expectations for ourselves.

Back when I was an office manager for a fast food franchise, the only thing I expected was the unexpected. Something new was nothing new and was part and parcel for the job. Handling complaints was also part of the job. One that was as cringeworthy as it sounds. 

I’ll never forget the time a very loud and disgruntled man called into the office and demanding $65.00 dollars cash. It seems he had decided to go through our drive through for lunch prior to a school recital his child was involved in. 

At this point I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. But it wasn’t a shoe, it was MUSTARD!

He wanted the $65.00 which was the exact amount for the newly purchased clothes his child was wearing when they spilled mustard all over themself while eating a burger in the backseat of the car.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

It was clear that this poor man was overwhelmed by the situation which was enhanced by the sound of the child crying in the background. His original expectations were not met and didn’t allow for the unexpected.

That complaint was rather mild compared to all the others I handled, but let’s save those for another time.

Lately I find myself exercising my own expectations and making sure they don’t tip the scale if you know what I mean. Making greater efforts to remain open to what comes reduces undue stress and actually increases happiness. 

Anyone who knows me also knows I have a reliable pattern of going to the gym on a daily basis. The time of day might fluctuate but you can pretty much bet on it barring any unforgiving snowstorm or occasional tornado warning. This has been the case for years but being open to chitchatting with others is something rather new.

Being a traditionally shy, introverted artist type can be a little isolating at times. I have to remind myself of this because I rather enjoy my quiet, alone time painting and reading. Actually reaching out to other people I see regularly at the gym has enriched my life and opened my eyes to the beauty of community.

It’s much easier to come across interesting personalities when they congregate in a place that caters to those who like living so much they want to extend it or at least live it with more vigor.

One day I noticed an individual with great energy and exuberance. I was able to summon up the courage to walk over and introduce myself. It was a milestone that I didn’t give myself enough time to form expectations. 

This man could have easily given me a funny look and just walked off. Instead he listened graciously while I explained that I was an artist and wondered if he would allow me to paint his image for a portrait study.

 After a few questions to get a better feel for his personality, I found a vibrant, caring and playful spirit. I’ve titled this painting “American Summer” and am beyond grateful and thrilled that he loved the results.

 It so happened not long after this, I was asked out of the blue to paint something for another gym buddy of mine. I refer to my 97 year old friend “Cookie”.

The sight of him pulling out a pint size photo of his adult daughter from his worn, bi-fold wallet made my heart swell. 

“Of Course I will! Any idea of what you want surrounding her?”, I asked.

“How about the Colosseum since she recently visited Italy?” with his eyes wide with possibility.

“You got it.”

I plan on delivering his painting today. Wish me luck and cross your fingers! No expectations, just high hopes it will bring on some smiles.

Top photo is of my friend Cookie and his lovely daughter Judy. Bottom photo is of me to the left and my lovely model by surprise, Judy to the right.

Both of their reactions exceeded any expectations I may have had and I even surprised myself by my own. Warmth and gratitude filled the room.

This opportunity presented itself without any expectation on my part.  It also reminds me of synchronicity - the simultaneous occurrence of events which appears significantly related but has no discernible causal connection.

Going back to that disgruntled father and his little one covered in mustard, I like to imagine her all grown up now and that he keeps a beautiful photo of her in his wallet. Perhaps he looks at it sometimes and remembers that day more fondly than before.

If you’re interested in a very short but powerful 8 minute meditation ( my personal favorite to start the day) you can look up “A Lovingkindness Meditation with Sylvia Boorstein” on Spotify.

As always, thank you for reading. Thank you for your support of the arts and artists everywhere! Please feel free to share this story with a fellow art lover in your life.

Cheers and stay above the clouds,

Julie (Juju) Hickman

 p.s. If you’re so inclined, you can listen to today’s song choice, Sogno by Andrea Bocelli 😄🇮🇹🌻



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