Sunday, June 24, 2012

Great Expectations

I went golfing yesterday with a man who I admire immensely; my boss. I know that there is only a small percentage of people who can say that without a sarcastic smirk beginning to pucker up from the corners of their mouths. As we were teeing up for the first hole, one of the most profound pieces of advice that I have heard in years trickled out from his stockpile of wisdom and landed in my lap. And I'm sure glad I was paying attention.

My boss: "I hate golfing with guys that take the game way too serious. The game isn't even fun when you're with them. Always getting upset and frustrated at bad shots and all."

Swamp Thing: "Yeah, I know what you mean."

My boss: "They have these ideas in their heads about how they want their shots to play out, and when they don't actually go that way, it messes them up. They don't live up to their expectations and it ruins them."

Cue Jiminy Cricket grabbing my shirt collar, slapping me across the forehead and directing my full attention to this wise sage.

My boss: "That's the problem with having expectations of something, anything. If you have this perfect idea of what something should be like, and it doesn't turn out that way, then it messes you up. That's why there is no reason to have any expectations at all in life. Do that, and you'll be fine."

For a split second yesterday morning, I almost felt a drop of moisture beginning to protrude from beneath my eyelid after hearing what he said.


Those words stuck with me for the rest of the day, and even later into the night, long after he and I enjoyed some of the best nine holes of golf that you can buy for eight bucks. And although he was just making casual conversation with one of his employees, semi-jeering at the overstuffed, compensating foursome of anal-tempered idiots in front of us, who spent the day boiling over with rage at the outcome of their poor chip shots, his impromptu analysis just might be a mental benchmark that I can hang my hat on in years to come.

Too often in life we create absurd expectations out of nothing. For situations that we have absolutely no control over; what will happen when she calls us back, where we will be moving once we get that dream job, when will he finally get over that hump and make it out of the ICU, or how we will celebrate once the Jazz finally win the NBA title. In our minds, we create detailed story lines for how the events will play out once that hypothetical bridge is crossed. We begin elaborating on the reactions to the actions; actions that 83% of the time don't actually go our way.

Funny how messed up our perspective is about how we think life is supposed to work isn't it?

How we think things will turn out and how they actually do unfold rarely coincide. She calls the other guy instead. The boss hired someone else. His diabetes took over and he decided to kick the bucket. Jerry Sloan retired and they'll be in the lottery for the next five to ten years. All of these victorious scenarios that we had in our minds never actually happened, and immediately we are dropped to an even lower level of despondency.

This is not a swan song post about how gloomy all of our lives will be once we realize that the years ahead for all of us are going to suck. Because life isn't like that. It is also not some type of spiritual uplifting post that will inspire all of you to go do something motivating.

John Doe: "I'm going to learn origami."

Jane Doe: "I will start a quilting company."

Courtney Adams: "I'm going to go synchronized swimming."

No you're not.

Life is all about living in the moment, as those hedonistic philosophers from eons past have hinted at. And yes, believe it or not, I did learn something in that waste of a class. And really kids, the point of this entire blogpost is that life is too short to set yourself up for illusions that more than likely will never happen. Expecting an inconceivable outcome will only cripple you from enjoying some of the most unplanned and exciting things that sometimes sweep right past you.

And that's Jenga.

What do you think?


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