I took a picture of the graduation cake just after I accidentally stuck my phone in it – fortunately only on the side.
It was that kind of week. One family high school graduation with the party pulled together at the last minute, one 7 year old birthday party, one 400 mile driving trip, the usual full week of work, tons o’ prep for the annual Unitarian Universalist General Assembly next week… oh, and one minor (but still unpleasant) surgery to remove a skin cancer. It’s amazing how annoying it is to have stitches on your face.
When I arrived for the graduation, there was (ahem) some family discord present. The two individuals concerned, both of whom were willing to talk to me, said literally the same words about each other: “Nothing I do is right. S/he gets mad at everything I do.” I had a few judgments arising internally, but I didn’t speak them. Instead I just listened and empathized with how each person was feeling and reflected that back until I could feel that enough space had been created by being heard so that it might be possible to offer some constructive suggestions. This seemed to create some openings for better communication and a better evening than might otherwise have happened.
Most things don’t go the way we expect them to. It’s helpful to everyone if we can remember that. I didn’t expect to arrive and need to go into “conflict resolution facilitator” mode. I didn’t expect to find myself buying cake and balloons at 10 PM. I didn’t expect to stick my phone in the cake before it was even served.
But, oh well. Life happens. If we can drop our expectations about how any day or event is supposed to go, we will be able to meet it as it is and access the best of ourselves to bring to it more easily.
Of course, developing the skills to meet challenging interpersonal situations is essential. We can’t bring skills we don’t have (and that almost none of us were taught growing up) if we don’t know what they are and haven’t practiced them. But we also need to remember to drop our expectations, which only block our ability to be present.
The cake was a little dented, but it tasted just as good. It wouldn’t have if I’d still been fretting over how it was “supposed to be.”
Expectations are pre-arranged resentments. Let them go.
With You on the Path,