All too often in my life, when I have been at cross purposes with others, it was because of my expectations. And, I suspect that I am not alone. How many times are our relationships with family and friends founded on expectations and obligations?
The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines “expect” as “regard as likely; assume as a future event or occurrence, to look for as appropriate or one’s due.” The word “obligation” is more forceful: “A duty, what one is morally or legally required to do, a binding agreement.”
But, difficulties arise, at least for me, when an individual does not live up to what I expect, what I consider “my due,” and then—more frequently than I care to admit or am even aware—I am quick to judge that person for her or his shortcomings. I wonder how much more productive our interactions with others would be if we substituted appreciation for expectation. If it is true, as Jess Rain… the treasure, a Korean mega-star claims, “A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected….”
Still, it might be the wonderful praise from readers of my trilogy that prompted me not long ago to lament to my publisher that I did not feel I was living up to expectations. As always, her candid response—“What expectations and whose? You have become a best-selling author!” gave me much-needed perspective.
Then, there are my four protagonists—Francine Stonehenge, Hope Harding, Jessica Yang, and Cassandra Jamison—in Lords and Lepers urging me to make haste with their stories. The creative process is fascinating, and once again when I began writing this book, and started to know, to listen to, and to trust my characters, I recognized that these young women were taking me on another journey, compelling me to discover what will happen next in their lives.
Since the publication of Arriving: 1909–1919 in October 2011, I have penned a monthly blog with more than 40 now posted on my website. As much as I have enjoyed chronicling the intriguing experiences of my literary career, I am making the decision to temporarily suspend writing my blogs. I have come to realize that I must pursue writing my current novel to meet my characters’ expectations and those of my devoted followers who arrive weekly searching for my new book. Nonetheless, I shall always stay in touch with my readers by continuing to prepare a monthly newsletter, and responding to your messages via email, facebook, and LinkedIn.
I believe all of our interpersonal relationships require constant and diligent work, but that they can have cornerstones of appreciation and love, rather than of expectation and obligation. I would like to leave you with what has become known as the Gestalt Prayer by psychotherapist Fritz Perls.
“I am not in this world to live up to your expectations. And you are not in this world to live up to mine. If by chance, we find each other – it’s beautiful.”