Expectations: A Different Kind of Magic
Expectations are tricky things. They come in all shapes and sizes and are very difficult to balance. Some people attempt to wrangle their expectations by keeping them low or zero, and decide that if they are able to do so, they will be able to find joy in pleasant surprise when good things actually do happen.
I know that we don’t start out that way. Also, it’s easy to test this: Just ask any human under the age of eight what they want to be when they grow up and the answers will show you it’s true. Astronauts. Doctors. Musicians. Firefighters. Artists. Lawyers. Chemists. Ballerinas. Jane Goodall. What do you want for Christmas? An elephant. A rocketship. A real ice cream maker. Expectations are high.
I get it though, I do. Duh, Andi--life is hard. It hurts. People fail us. We fail others. Nature destroys our hopes for the future. Timing isn’t right. So we go colder and our expectations decrease and we are content to be pleasantly surprised from time to time.
But! I want to get back to to tiny people-- They are amazed at everything. Children may seem to have a short attention span, but if you can find the right fit for them, they can talk about The. Same. Thing. Forever. I once had dinner with friends and their kid read an entire encyclopedia about dinosaurs to me. Then he had commentary for each dinosaur. He backed it up with research. I loved it. And if you think for a minute, you know you had that thing too. And you probably still do, but it might have changed from your eight year old fascinations.
I remember wandering around what felt like an enchanted forest outside of my parent’s home when I was little. I can’t remember if it was when I wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic, or an artist or a singer, but somewhere right around there. Everything was magic. The tall trees became a woodland castle, and I was the princess that could charm butterflies and birds. And when the sun set and it was time to go back into the house, I could always count on my dad for a nature lesson. This fascination never changed much--A neighbor of ours once stared at me like the crazy lady I was (crouched low trying to photograph a strange water bird in my yard) to say, “Andi, you like, REALLY like animals, huh?”
The last few weeks, I’ve been dying to see the butterflies in droves outside my parents house during my late September visit. I even had an entire nerdy blog post prepped and ready for today about their migration and was so excited to include my own photographs in these amazing winged creatures. I expected to step off the plane into an enchanted Texas field full of orange, glittering wings.
But instead, I was greeted by no miraculous butterfly fields. There was something completely different, in fact.
Instead of bright orange confetti, I was greeted by pipping hummingbirds. Every morning and evening there were at least ten hummingbirds that flit and fluttered about my parent’s back patio, and I couldn’t help and sit in awe of these almost bug like birds in all of their glory. We would sit out there with glass mugs in the morning or bottles in the evening, and I was able to get more nature lessons from my wise dad.
And even luckier? He took me for another walk in the enchanted forest before we headed off to the airport today. As always I had high expectations. I’m finding that as a grownup, when I can see the same magic in things that I saw as that aspiring young singer in the backwoods castle, there’s a lot more joy to be had.
There weren’t a million monarchs--but I did see no less than three pipevine swallowtails, and a monarch or two along the way. Most of all, there were plenty of reminders that the little things are heavenly and living full of hope and expectations is a good thing. Just as long as you can learn to hold them loose enough that the magic of what life offers you instead isn’t lost.
P.s. I did grow up to be an artist. I stepped off the plane to live music played by a boy who grew up to be a musician. My momma spent her entire career as a #girlboss. Sweetest friend from high school? She’s a world changing therapist who also gets paid to work her other dream as a dancer. Flying home tonight to my husband who is in law school. My new Boston bestie? Yeah, she’s traveled the world. And when I was twelve years old, I met Jane Goodall. So maybe you paint in the evening when you put your baby to bed, or maybe you jam your guitar skills in between jobs fixing fences or computers, or you build model airplanes instead of fly jet fighters. But hold on to your tiny human hopes, okay? We all need what you’re bringing into the world in your dreams.