Monday, December 11, 2006


Expectations are dangerous things. We can have "good" expectations, or more accurately, expectations of good things to happen . . . "I'm looking forward to Christmas, it's going to be wonderful!" (words either of my children could speak at any moment in the next two weeks), and expectations of bad things to happen . . . "I'm worried that that pesky, damn spot of cancer in my abdomen was a metastasis, or can cause a metatasis because it connected to my lymph or blood system." (The last part is according to the pathology report that was available this past Friday, and these are thoughts I've been having a lot over the last few days.)

Why are either of these dangerous? While anticipation and yearning can be powerful, intense feelings, and windows to some of our internal process about an upcoming event, deciding how that event is likely to unfold is dangerous. I learned some of this perspective years ago when I took a weekend workshop with two women who then referred to their work as "The Love Project." They have since changed their name to Teleos Institute, and like most ongoing projects out in the world, they have a website.

"Have no expectations, but rather abundant expectancy" was one of the original "Love Principles" articulated by Arleen Lorrance of the then "Love Project." A full list of the principles can be found at their website, and I'm including them here as well. While they are essentially simple, they can also be unpacked to provide useful principles for changing the way we think about ourselves, our lives, and those we encounter on our life journey.

Receive all people as beautiful exactly as they are.

Be the change you want to see happen, instead of trying to change anyone else.

Create your own reality consciously.

Provide others with opportunities to give.

Have no expectations, but rather abundant expectancy.

Problems are opportunities.

As I thought about writing about expectations, expectancy, and the ideas of Diane K. Pike and Arleen Lorrance of Teleos Institute, I reflected on the number of times in the months since I began this blog that I have discussed and described some workshop I've attended in the past. So, I want to name that yes, I did attend a lot of workshops, that I saw them as part of my spiritual journey, and now I'm happy to name one or more pieces that I got from doing the work I did. At least the learning isn't all lost to time!

So, about my expectations. Okay, so I remember the principle, but I don't always live it fully, I admit. As time passed with my clean scans, I expected to feel delighted and relieved to reach the six month mark without needing treatment and without experiencing additional effects of the gallbladder cancer. Instead, I admit I've spent the last four weeks, since the week before my November 17 scan, worried. (I just counted the weeks, to see if my sense was indeed correct, that's it's been that long.) So, the six month anniversary of my diagnosis has come and gone, and I haven't been feeling lighthearted and pleased, but rather anxious and fearful.

How can I shift from my anxiety to a place of expectancy, or openness to the possibility of "good" things, and a trust that if "bad" things happen, I can handle them? Just asking the question helps me begin to think about it all differently. If I am committed to living fully in the time I have (and I am), then living in fear and anxiety is not fulfilling my deep desire. Feeling that desire, that yearning, and withdrawing my expectations of outcome and timing can be a good place to start. Don't misunderstand, it's not that I don't want to live many, many more years. It's just that I don't want to miss the moment, the present, the now of my experience because I'm worrying about what's going to happen next month, or in six months, or a year, or five years. I think that expectancy is about living in the now, and not in the unknown future. That's what I want, to be here now.


Anonymous said...

Wow! You have surely put some ideas out there that are real and thought provoking. Living in the moment is something that I have been trying to do for a very long time; but I haven't been very good at it a lot of the time. You have inspired me to keep trying. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

This is probably totally inappropriate but I have a reputation for that. Down here in the South we have a comic that is known for the phrase "Git 'R Done."
He is known as The Cable Guy. If you ever listen to him and discard the gratuitous obscenities, he's really quite astute. I know it's easier said than done but sometimes the phrase is used down here just to help focus. Git doin' on the livin'! Don't share your time with fear and anxiety. It's far too precious.
Susan H.

Sean Spence said...

I like this entry, Lynne. Very thought provoking, as usual. I tend to think in terms of optimism and pessimism, rather than expecting that one thing or another is going to happen. And even when I can't feel it, I just tell myself that things are going to work out (fake it 'til you make it, ya know?). I'm going to share this with the folks on my blog.

Take care.

- sean

Sean Spence
MS Advocate