Old article posted in Times of India on 31st December 2015. Link here-
“Expectations are injurious to health and the heart. Don’t ever expect, as only few people come in our life as blessings. All the others come as lessons!”
I was shell shocked. Seriously! This was not happening to me.
Already, I was disappointed with some of my close friends and relatives for not informing me of an extremely important life event that had occurred with one of them, back home in India.
To make the matters worse, when I wrote to them about my disappointment, that I had learned a lesson in my life, one of them replied back by conveying the above mentioned profound words.
Did he really mean what he wrote or was this just like any other ‘copy and paste’ exercise carried out on social media by all, in the name of displaying their smartness and profound intellect!
I was not sure. But this hurt bad! Real bad! A stone was thrown at the still waters of my mind and now there was enough turbulence in the pond of emotions.
Where do expectations start and where do they end? Can we really live a life without any expectations from relationships? Can you consider a living person to be a blessing, only if he or she brings a zero expectation base?
I know that we live in a world where if a parent desires a child to excel in his life and expresses that, he runs the risk of being no longer considered as caring for the child but as overbearing, intrusive and one who is putting the burden of his expectations on his child’s shoulders. In these modern times, a parent should step aside from the role of a mentor or guardian and accept that true wisdom exists in the minds of their adolescent or teenage children or else they can Google it and find it on their own. Today, we should not express our views lest they may be a cause of undue stress on our children!
I know that in today’s world, parents have limited expectations of their children taking care of them in their old age and plan their golden years on their own, physically, mentally and financially. Perhaps even the children prefer that!
I know that more progress means more expectations from machines, technology, virtual world and inaccessible friends on social media for emotional support and less from the living ones. While the former can be tuned ‘in’ or ‘off’ whenever one desires, the latter carry their extra unwanted baggage of expectations which can be stressful.
But I never knew that simple things in life are also now considered as unwanted expectations by the modern man.
If a person wishes to be informed of important family events, then that is an unwanted expectation! If a spouse wants love in the marriage then that is unwanted expectation! If a parent wants the children to convey what they want to do in their life and desires to be in a position of a friend whom they can lean on for advice, then that too is unwanted expectation!
In a market place, the building block of any successful commercial relationship is setting of expectations- one expects to be paid for the services rendered while the other expects to be rendered certain services for the payment agreed upon. Higher the value of the transaction, higher the level of expectation!
In life’s relationships, however, we are not desirous of having a basic minimum level of expectation and find any person carrying such feelings as injurious to health and the heart, ours as well as perhaps, theirs. At most, he may be accepted as a fountainhead who adds to the relationship but should not expect anything back!
True this is a great thing to happen and all scriptures; Gurus, Saints, neo-age preaches and social media messages convey a similar message. To be in a true, selfless state is what a great man should aspire for!
But alas, for my selfish, ordinary, unenlightened existence, the idea itself is hollow, more altruistic than real. Even the best of fountains can run dry if it is not replenished from time to time by the odd cloud that pours droplets that may have once sprouted out of this very source! Every relationship needs nourishing which sets a minimum basic level of expectation.
With greater love, comes greater expectation. Parents expect more from their children, children more from their parents, spouses more from each other than other people who are a part of their lives. Nothing wrong or abnormal here!. Then why call this injurious?
True, one is hurt more when expectations are shattered. Especially, by the near and dear ones! Does that mean that we should stop emoting? Or being in love? Or blame ourselves for being self-centered if expectations creep in!
Expectations are a byproduct not the basis of a relationship! Love is the basis! Expectations cannot therefore be removed as long as love exists ! So strengthen love and make it stronger so that you can ignore the pain and move on when expectations are shattered!
It takes a little bit of time. I know my wounds will heal!
Till such time, my friend, my Buddha, allow this pain to pierce my heart and sprout a new fountain of love and fill this gap! Believe in me as I may still be a blessing to you even when both of us, learn a lesson. This time, I guess, I am just being human!