Zero Expectations

We had a running joke at work a while back about how we should resolve ourselves to have minimal expectations when it came to, well, pretty much anything in the way of policy changes. Too many promises had been made by one manager or another, and over time we became rather disenfranchised by the entire roller coaster ride.

So in one of my slightly snarky moments, I suggested we employ a “Zero Expectations” motto so that hey, if we have zero expectations of X, Y, or Z getting done, then we can’t possibly be disappointed when they aren’t.

Seemed logical enough, right? Plus the motto itself ran rampant was tinted with sarcasm–and you all know I rather enjoy serving a dab or two of that on pretty much everything.

Of course, someone came back soon afterward with a more boring tolerant version: expect the worst, hope for the best. To that I said, bah–doesn’t have nearly the same ring to it (and it wasn’t nearly as catchy a phrase, either). Even so, “Zero”, like so many other business mottos, was soon brushed aside for snappier, more upbeat versions (“It’s all good”, “No worries”, “There’s no I in T-E-A-M”, yadda yadda yadda).

But I didn’t completely let Zero go. Nope, I chose to keep that motto tucked safely in my back pocket, to be used as needed. Like tonight, when I had spent most of the day looking forward to driving my oldest to his first outdoor soccer practice of the season. 2 hours of uninterrupted writing time–a dream come true for any writer who also works full time during the day and keeps house for their family at night.

2 whole hours to write. My story was finally starting to gel, my finicky characters were starting to really speak to me. It was going to be perfect.

Original image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of John Morgan.

Original image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of John Morgan.

Ah, but then that thing called “life” happened, which it so often does. A curveball from left field, and through no one’s fault I discovered late in the day that I would need to take my youngest along to practice as well. And since it was 44 degrees and drizzling outside, it wasn’t like I could send him off to play while I sat in the car. Nope, we’d be there together, confined and restless.

And just like that, my dream of the perfect writing session went *poof*.

So while the youngest was wiggly and squirming and fussing about having to do his homework when he’d rather be doing [insert anything else fun an 8-yr-old likes to do], I felt a little nudge in my back pocket. Yep, you guessed it–my Zero motto gave me a little prod.

See, rather than get upset over losing that writing time, I choose to make the best of it with my youngest. Because we didn’t just do homework–we ran around in the cold and rain for a few minutes kicking a football around, we played “I spy”, we made faces, we laughed, we giggled, we talked, we shared.

And I wouldn’t trade that time with him for the world.

No matter how much control we like to envision having, life isn’t scripted. It doesn’t always go as planned or hoped, and that’s okay. That’s life! What’s important is not where the curveball came from or what path it caused us to veer from/onto–it’s about making the most of our journey, every step of the way.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, we just may not always be privy to knowing what that reason is. But those things are still happening, and it’s up to us to choose how to react to them. Kicking and pouting, or laughing and playing–the choice is ours alone.

jake baseball catcher from grandmaD

So get out your catcher’s mitt and be ready for those curveballs and crazy pop flies. You can’t expect every pitch to be perfect, or every hit to be a home run. But if you step into today without expecting every plan on your list to play out to the nth degree, you may just find a whole lot of life still right there waiting for you. My guess is, you’ll find far more than zero after all.

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10 thoughts on “Zero Expectations

  1. Glad you decided to go with the flow and enjoy time with Ryan. It might be one of those instances he remembers most as a great feeling with mom….what memories are made of.

  2. It’s interesting, I think, when the plans go either left or right of the centre, the inner “mean girl” heats up with … “what’s all this supposed to be about? What about all my planning and meticulous sticking to the timing the plan and planning the time and all the affirmation recitation and so on and so forth and such like.”

    … only to be tempered with the cooling:

    “if your plan wasn’t interrupted, you may not have come across your ability to handle things well…. especially the unexpected stuff”

    Cooling is cool and educational. One learns more about how capable you really can be as well as the lovely aroma of the nearby roses.

    As usual another inspiring KJ post πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, Gabba, my sentiments exactly. Even in writing this, I still struggle often to stop and smell the roses (or stinking little boys, as is often the case). But writing bring it top of mind for me, and serves as a lovely placeholder to come back to later for subtle reminders.

      Here’s to remembering to breathe deeply, love fully, and smell those beautiful blooms.

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