The other day I was standing in line at the grocery store (extremely excited to try my new almond milk recipe!) when I overheard a woman say “Life is just a series of disappointments.”
My first reaction was to be sad. I didn’t know this woman nor did I know the events that took place in her life but I can’t imagine what would cause her to think that, let alone say it. So I was sad. For her, for life, for the moment.
My next reaction was an internal issue. Although I don’t view my own life as a “series of disappointments,” I certainly know what it is like to feel let down. To get those pebbles in the pit of your stomach that somehow wiggle their way to the top of your throat when reality doesn’t meet our expectation.
And there it was right in front of me: my cart with ingredients for homemade almond milk and the Great Battle of Expectation vs Reality.
I started to think about all the times I expected something in life. From someone, from a game, from myself. More often than not, I was left unhappy if it didn’t turn out the way I had planned. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that it had no reflection on that person, the game, or anything else for that matter, but a reflection on myself. My idea that “this is how it should be” and when it wasn’t, well…cue pebbles wiggling to the top of my throat.
So that was it, I thought. I went home and let the rest of my day play out until the Great Battle revisited me in bed as I closed my eyes. I got to thinking about my life and how I could possibly describe the battle in just a day’s work. Here is what I came up with:
How I thought my evening would go:
Leave work, stop at CVS to pick up a prescription. Quick run to Nino Salvaggio to buy marinated chicken, asparagus, spinach, cheese cloth, and dates. Come home. Set oven to 400. Meanwhile, blend ingredients for my three-day-process, this-is-so-delicious Almond Milk. Pause. Admire how great I am. Back to Reality. Cook supper. Sit at the table with my love, laugh about our day, kiss, and clean up. Change, work out—“get fit!” Come back, shower. Lay on the couch with my love and trace each other’s outlines. Say, “It’s time for bed, baby.” Lay in bed. Sweet dreams.
How my evening actually went:
Left work, stopped at CVS, and they told me I didn’t have insurance. Wrong—they forgot to enter my new information into the system. Damn it, I’m already running late. Went to Nino’s and picked up all the essentials plus this garlic dip because it looked so creamy and gooey and garlic-y. Oh and banana chips because banana chips! Why am I still here? Headed home. Set oven to 400. Meanwhile, blender exploded and there was liquid everywhere. What is this machine? What in the hell is going on?
Cleaned up. Tried again. Explosion number two. Dear Lord, this stuff better taste like a vanilla bean waltzing at midnight under a shower of sprinkles. He’s home. “I’m sorry I haven’t started supper yet!” He didn’t care. He’s forever. Finally cooked. We ate and he was sad so I hugged him and we accepted the silence. Cleaned up. Changed, worked out. Wow I’m breathing heavy and could go for a candy bar. Came back, showered. Packed lunches, cleaned kitchen again. “Time for cereal?” ritual. Two bowls later. “What time is it?” 10:30. “Yes! Want to go to bed?” Yup. Laid down. He kept saying the word “windly” and I could not stop laughing. He laughed at me. Then with me. We finally reached tears because of the absurdity of it all. “God I love you.”
And there it was: a reflection of my day. My life. And in some way, shape, or form, probably a reflection of your life too.
Here we are expecting the dishes to be clean, the friend to take our side, the traffic to disappear for just one damn day, or for-the-love-of-Earth the person to say “Thank you” after we hold the door open. But it doesn’t work like that. Life, that is.
This chaotic, beautiful life that we must let happen.
Because when we do that, when we let it happen without expectation, we can finally sit back and sip our almond milk and think to ourselves: life tastes so much better when I trust it.
Author: Marilyn Wargo
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author’s Own