expectations and fantasies

This morning at 7am, year 12 students from Victoria received notification of their VCE results. As I listened to radio conversation in the lead-up, the talk was about expectations; and the differences between getting results that were higher or lower than anticipated.

It so happened I was already thinking about the power of expectation. On the weekend we are heading up to Queensland for a break over Christmas. I discovered yesterday afternoon that the discount airline who is carrying us won’t cart objects longer than 2 metres on their flights into Collangatta. WHAT? It’s the Gold Coast … and you won’t carry surf boards … you’ve got to be joking!!

I was discussing my disappointment with my wise 14 years old daughter. She lay down beside me and said, “Dad, do you remember Lyn, my primary school art teacher?” [I did]. When I’d make a mistake I’d take it to her upset and say, ‘Lyn I’ve made a mistake’. (All the teachers are referred to by first name at our local school). And she would say, ‘Rachel, in art there are no mistakes, only differences.”

Rachel then says to me, “Dad, I think holidays are the same.”

As an idealist, many of my expectations are fantasies, so it was a timely reminder not to set myself up for disappointment by creating a view of what is an acceptable holiday (with copious surfing), rather than making the most of what actually happens.

In the lead up to Christmas our lives are full of fantasies. Idealistic Christmas lunches where we imagine our relatives’ idiosyncrasies dissolve or new year’s resolutions that deny the realities of our ingrained habits.

Does this mean we simply lower expectations? No, that’s not the point. The point is that life is full of real imperfect people, imperfect systems; things go wrong. The contented life is one that rides these waves with resilience and humour. Life is mostly an art, not a science.

This will be my last (planned) post until the new year. I hope your festive season is satisfying as you embrace the things that matter in an imperfect world.