Anything that is given can be at once taken away. We have to learn never to expect anything,
and when it comes it’s no more than a gift on loan. -John McGahern
Many people argue that we have to have high expectations of life, that we ought to expect the best and only the best for ourselves, and then the best will manifest itself in our lives and we’ll be happy and fulfilled. To a certain extent, I believe they’re right, for the energy that we put out tends to come back to us, and if we put out positive, expectant energy, then good things are bound to come our way.
The Zen masters or the Buddhist monks would tell us that we should expect nothing but what life wants to give us, and that life always will give us what we need. When we expect life to give us something particular–a new relationship, a new job, a return on investment–we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment when it turns out that life sees that there’s something that would be better for us. Perhaps we’ll lose all our money in a certain investment, but the lessons we learn will help us greatly two years from now when we really need it much more.
Everything’s on loan, for one day we shall die, and we will take nothing with us but the lessons that we’ve learned while we’ve been here. Hopefully, those lessons won’t be about how to attain financial or material wealth, but about how to love and give and live life fully. Hopefully, we won’t have learned to hoard money, but to share it. Hopefully, we won’t have learned to expect people to do or say what we want them to, but to expect them to be themselves and express themselves as they will, no matter what we expect from them.
Questions to consider:
- What do you expect from other people?
- Are those expectations realistic?
- What material or financial expectations do you have?
- Do these expectations add value to your life?
- Why do we tend to focus so much on our own expectations of how things should be?
For further thought:
It is the preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents people from living freely and nobly.