(Less than) Great Expectations

“The secret to happiness is low expectations.”

This is a favorite quote of a family friend from my childhood. There is so much truth here. And so much room to argue.

“But how can we have greatness if we have low expectations?”

To which my softer voice replies, “Because greatness isn’t complex. It is simple in its honesty. Lower expectations don’t change the bar for doing – they change the feeling of doing.”

When my pen touches paper with grippy expectations of performance for others, my right shoulder blade elevates and the left side of my skull tightens. Flattens. Battens down against the potential of judgment. The inevitable individual interpretation that I invite by putting me out to be seen. And I can clog up there. When my focus is on “What will they all think? How will they all interpret this? Will it be good enough for them?” the system slows to a crawl. Gears grind. Words are choppy and thick.

And there is more.

When I side step gently around the circular window of this moment, I can see more.

The basics. Food, water, shelter, rest, movement, breath, love. When these foundational elements are present for the ebbing and flowing desires of my Self, clarity abounds. But there is no exact ratio for clarity as I am a dynamic being in a dynamic world. And there are very clear distractions to its innate simplicity.

“YOU’VE MEDITATED FOR 58 DAYS STRAIGHT!” my meditation timer informs me. It praises me and allows me to feel ALL that I have accomplished. On surface level, I pishaw. “That counter is of no matter to me.” my ultra spiritual corner of self says through downturned, half slit eyes. Meanwhile, another side of me fluffs up my rooster like chest feathers for all the world to see. Because I’ve basically won meditation if I’ve sat for 58 days in a row. Right?

And then my timer turns on me.

One day it gives me accolades and praise of capitals and bigger numbers. Tens digits AND ones digits!!! Magnificence!

Then life occurs. A 36 hour migraine. I miss a day.

And the world ends.


No, not really.

Instead, the timer count resets.

“You have meditated for 1 day.”

I feel the clench as I stare downward at the screen on that reset day. The gut stab of “What? You wimp to bow out yesterday because of a migraine! What have YOU accomplished now?”

Ah. There it is. The count of the consecutive days that I think matters not. It matters. It equals accomplishment. Please know that I have full understanding that accomplishment has the potential to be awesome and motivating. But when it runs outside of my awareness, ACCOMPLISHMENT feels heavy and dense.

And that grippy, dense, rigid metric is not how I feel the best of me. Remember the talk of simplicity and dynamism in how basic needs ebb and flow? Well, in the mystery and exploration of that dynamism lies sweet, awaiting joy.

Joy is lighter. It is more pervasive. Spreading. Sparkling like water in early morning sunlight. Joy is not necessarily laughter or intense happiness. But it is embracing what is present in the given moment. Joy is sitting and breathing in quiet for 10 minutes with my husband at 6 a.m. because we are alive. Joy is getting to help others move better when I go to work. Joy is the gift of crazy in my house full of five beings and two cats. Joy is the freedom to write of my own heart.

Joy is the reset of my meditation timer from 58 consecutive days to

1 day.

Joy is the opportunity to start anew in every moment of every day.

“The secret to happiness is low expectations.”

Breathing. Sitting. Writing. Moving. Being.

Be ever so well,

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