August 23, 2013

Expectation Vs. Reality.

“Hero” by Regina Spektor is ringing in my ears.

Her melodic voice repeating,

“I’m the hero of this story, don’t need to be saved.”

The screen is split in two and the scene plays out as expectations on the left and reality on the right. If you’ve watched the movie 500 Days of Summer, this scene might sound familiar to you.

If not- get on that, because you’re sorely and surely missing out!

In case you haven’t had the time to enjoy this movie yet, it goes a little something like this:

“This is a story of boy meets girl. This is a story about love. But this is not a love story.”

No spoiler alerts here, the narrator (yes, there is a narrator) states this disclaimer up front. You know from the start to not expect what you probably would when both characters enter the scene.

This is all too true: with love, we have expectations.

With the idea of love, even our first few thoughts, are expectations. Romantically or otherwise, our own human experience has shaped what we think will come of this story of “boy meets girl.”

This scene in particular speaks to me.

It’s so simple and so powerful in its playback. Just as in our daily life, we play out our mind’s expectations which are parallel to the reality of our lives.

We might not have the loveliest soprano singing in our head, but we do have the ego—and as it goes, we’re the hero of our own story. Our reality might not be so, but within our mind we have that powerful stream of consciousness telling us that we are the hero and we don’t need to be saved.

I deal with this voice everyday: the ego.

It’s strong, it’s ever-present, and she is an independent soloist.

The independent mind is strong as an ox and stubborn as a bull. With too much attachment to the outcome of expectations comes a downfall. But the letting go and acceptance of reality “as is” brings the grasp of a true hero.

I am learning each day that to feel like a heroine, I must let go of control and relinquish planning; surrendering to the world around me.

I feel like this is so charming in theory, even as I type it, the words come effortlessly. But I do fully comprehend the difficulty of the task.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in excitement, and with those emotions, start a prediction of what is to come next.

As soon as things don’t go “our way,” or rather the way that we predicted they would go, we feel taken aback. We become distraught because things-did-not-go-how-we-thought-they-might-go-in-the-most-perfect-version-of-the-world-within-our-head.

A bit silly when we say it like that now, no?

Saving you the cinematographic details of how Jason Gordon-Levitt deals with his own experience of expectations versus reality, I’ll let you recall some of your own. A coffee date, a business meeting, a family trip—whether it is a solo experience or a shared one we all have the voice in the back of our head charming us with a delusion.

I mean that in both senses of the word: we have our inner voice telling us how the scene will play out in the cinema of our life as either a comedy or tragedy.

Our Shakespearean ego takes us into a daydream that can be appreciated as the norm of internal chatter or can be regarded as a script set in stone. The latter, as I’m sure you’ve seen, doesn’t always fare well when we find ourselves at center stage.

If we can’t meet the demands of life with a smile and some improvisation then we are bound to be left with feelings of resent and disappointment.

To claim expertise on how to be satisfied with your reality is not my place.

I will say though, that if you want to be the hero of your own story then stay present with yourself in each moment that you can.

At times we could all be saved from ourselves and that starts with presence in the present moment. Accepting your current situation, letting go of premeditated dialogue and being ready to change scenes quickly will allow you some peace of mind.

Next time you find yourself going through a rehearsal in your head, let it go.

Take a few deep breaths and let the experience run its course.


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Ed: Catherine Monkman

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