Gratitude Sunday: Expect The Best

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” Bruce Lee

Sunday Haiku
The cycle of life,
one soul leaves, one soul enters,
trees sigh in the wind.

Sunday Musings
A hundred years ago when I was in my early 20s, I took my first yoga class. After years of being clumsy and always being the last picked for team sports in school, here was something I could do with my body. There was no competition with other people. Each person worked at their own rate and did only what their body could do. I felt a measure of success because the more I did yoga the more my body was able to do.

The teacher liked to end each class with words of contemplation or inspiration. The only one I remember is “Lower your expectations.” The words hit me like thunderbolt then and left their mark as sure as a burn.

Here’s the thing. He didn’t say lower your expectations of yourself or lower your expectations of other people. I never considered he might be saying to lower my expectations of myself, that didn’t make any sense to me at all. I took him to mean to lower our expectations of other people, to let go of thinking other people should do what you think they should do.

While that’s good philosophy and may make working with other people somewhat easier, I also have found it to be a self fulfilling prophecy. If I lower my expectations thinking I’ll be pleasantly surprised when the person does more than I expect, they usually show me the worst, not the best. I’m not pleasantly surprised when I have low expectations of another person, and the person takes advantage of me in some way (I’ve been lied to, stolen from, vandalized, physically violated, and had pets killed by “friends”).

In contrast, when I have expected the best, or excellent performance from a person, they usually live up to this expectation. It’s like directing a play. The director tells the actor what he wants to see, and the actor does his best to do what the director says. I remember directing a scene from Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie for a class at community college, asking the actor to put a certain kind of passion into the words he said. He did, and the words came with so much passion his co-actor ended up with a face full of spit. When he was done, he was so upset and apologizing to his cohort, but I was crying because he had done the scene precisely as I had envisioned. I had expected the best from him and he’d given it to me, passion, saliva, and everything. That’s what makes the suspension of disbelief in theater possible.

We have personal expectations and general societal expectations. Some of our general societal expectations include working hard, taking care of yourself and your family, respect for yourself and others, doing your best, and following a few simple rules for sharing our communities.

What if there are barriers to our general expectations? For example, average students in America are expected to graduate from high school. In my school district we have a 25 percent dropout rate. Fully one quarter of our students fail to meet this expectation. I don’t know how many go on to get a GED or get a high school diploma through the local community college; this would be a good detail to know. I also do not know the statistics of graduation rates from, say, 40 or 50 years ago for comparison. My question is why is the percentage so high now.

I’m sure many reasons apply: bullying by peers and teachers (I am a witness in several incidents), poverty, mental and emotional health, the warehousing nature of public schools which render individuals invisible, and failure to address learning differences such as dyslexia are a few examples. If we isolate just one factor, for example, dyslexia affects 25 percent of the general population, and we have a 25 percent dropout rate, to me that looks like pretty easy math. I’m not blaming teachers, but we’ve known about dyslexia for more than 40 years and much can be done to change this one statistic starting with teaching teachers to teach dyslexics. One of the interesting elements of dyslexia that’s hard for teachers to understand is dyslexic readers often read upside down or backward before they read the typical way, so when they learn typical reading they can read three ways, not just one like typical readers: typical, upside down, and backward. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just different.

If we are looking toward change with the expectation of improvement of the general standard, that’s a good thing. Likewise if we are looking for the best in other people, like students, teachers, or other people in leadership positions, we should acknowledge it and reward it when we see it.

At this point in America many general expectations have been smashed beyond all recognition. Our federal leadership is a runaway train with a loose caboose disconnected from the needs of average people; more than 50 percent of Americans can’t afford humble basic housing, simple local organic foods, transportation to work, or routine health care, and forget about a higher education or working up in the job hierarchy. People who are able to work and need the work can’t get the training they need, while employers cry about the shortage of skilled workers.

When I started expecting the best from people, that’s what I got on an individual basis. It made it easier for me to spot the betrayers and backstabbers, the users and the jealous. I had to learn it’s not always about me, that sometimes I don’t have to do anything or say anything for the other person to twist it up to fit their perspective. I had to learn that users learned using and when they behaved like that it was likely all they knew. I had to learn that from other people’s perspective I appear to own great abundance and therefore am a good target for theft, though I do not own great wealth or fabulous stuff; my possessions are inherited and I consider them important memories, or things I worked, budgeted, and saved for. It’s an interesting illusion as what I have is an abundance of worthless junk. They may think I might not notice in the abundance of my stuff something might be missing. They do not know what memories they steal from me. They also do not know had they bothered to ask, I would have likely given it freely and welcome to it. I’m not a social worker, and my skills at showing love have limits when I’m taken advantage of. I do have to protect myself.

If I expect the best at the personal level and at the general (community) level, why should I expect anything less than the best of our American federal government, the government we pay for, the government we elect? I expect this government to work for us, the citizens and workers who pay taxes, not to work for the wealthy who do not need more of anything.

It’s not working for us right now. I don’t know what it will look like if the ones that are mucking around right now keep trying to make it better, because whatever it is they are doing isn’t making it better. Or even great again. I know what I’d do if I were put in charge, but I’m not wealthy so my ideas are so much dog chow. My ego is big enough to think the changes I’d recommend, while different from what we do now, would still result in greater profits for all concerned, a better economy, an improved forward looking infrastructure, and more secure lives in America. If a poor, fat, old, cranky, white lady can think up good solutions what are we paying those other guys for?

In our society our expectations are changing. Our young people are impatient with the nonsense. I can’t blame them. They would like to have the American dream, the one most of us grew up expecting, a home of our own and the privilege of a property tax bill, a place to raise and feed our families, satisfying work, good health, and income security to pay for it all. People in my generation have expected the changes we’ve worked for over the last 50 years to be permanent structures by now. They aren’t but we are not done yet, perhaps we will never be done expecting a better America. We forget history is fluid. We work for a change, the change happens, the change is reversed, and then happens again in a new way. We must work with our young people helping them secure their futures and the futures of multiple generations to come.

So no. I won’t lower my expectations any more, and I will not be disappointed if you fail to meet my expectations. I won’t be disappointed if I fail to meet your expectations. Failure is an opportunity to learn. However, I expect us to do and be the best we can do and be, and I want that to be our self-fulfilling prophecy. Our expectations should be for us to change toward being better individuals, working toward better communities and a better world, passion, saliva, and everything. Change is the only constant. Expect change. Expect the best change. Constantly.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Blue flowers of the hosta, champion of growing in shade. Fiery summer colors like sparklers bursting from the ground (marigolds?). The depth of color on this wine colored day lily in the middle of a patch of coreopsis. The simplicity of the poppy seed head, sage green and with a fancy brown cap, full of expectations of next season’s poppies.

Current View {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Took a break from Dr Kildare as The Shape of Water (2017, rated R) arrived for my turn in the queue from my local lending library. On these first run movies I like to watch them right away and get them back into the queue, then I request it again later. Not everybody does it that way but to me that seems like the best way to share. I was looking forward to this movie as it is the first fantasy/science fiction movie to get Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Return of the King (2003, rated PG – 13) which took best picture in 2004 is strictly fantasy, not science fiction. Water didn’t disappoint. The movie achieves an element of magic, for me at least, wanting the creature to survive and prevail. Great photography, unique story, a bit of violence and gore, Russian intrigue, a fascinating “alien”, a “handicapped” female protagonist, unexpected and intense romance, and one more tale of how the biggest monsters are human. Recommended as a must watch. I’ll watch it again.

Currently ReadingThe Dark Angel (2018, fiction) by Elly Griffiths. Nothing beats it for summer reading like a good British mystery with travel, food, intrigue, archeology, history, and a touch of romance. * Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – And the Unexpected Solutions (2018, psychology, depression) by Johann Hari. Occasionally a book comes along with studies to show what I’ve been saying all along. Depression and anxiety are more symptoms of the problems in our society than a reflection of the mental health of an individual, or as Jiddu Krishnamurti says, “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a sick society.” There are things we can do to change this, unfortunately some of it has to be done at the political/societal level. On the other hand, there are some solutions we can take advantage of right now on a personal level. A must read for anybody trying to understand why depression has not resolved with the use of pharmaceutical drugs or other therapies.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Being smarter than spell check.
  • The hubster cutting down a weed visible through my kitchen window that had grown tall enough when I caught it out of the corner of my eye I thought somebody was in the back yard. Silly brain, good startle reflex.
  • Watering my outside plants on warm evenings, cooling my feet, splashing my dress with cool water, listening to the plants sigh.
  • The hubster getting the window air conditioner in place for the upcoming hotter days of summer.
  • Being able to choose to lie down when I was going through a couple puny days.
  • Not having the pressure of having to meet an outside work schedule in this heat (fragile flower that I am). Working at home means I can work when I want. As naked as I want.
  • Having fairly good control of my house’s heating and cooling without central air.
  • Opening doors and windows as the sun goes down to let the cooling breeze in.
  • My pool membership, allowing me access all open hours.
  • My little brain that still works even when slowed by the heat.
  • Ice packs for when the brain gets too hot.
  • A friend who was able to help her childhood friend in that sacred moment of leaving this earth for the other side.
  • Simple easy suppers eaten after dark when it’s cool enough to have an appetite.
  • Chef’s salads.
  • Oregon berries.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, Education, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Politics, Theatre and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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