Expectations are interesting things. They are like little pictures in our heads of how things and people are going to be. Sometimes we put so much stock and determination in those pictures (that we created), that the real things can't hope to match them.
My lovely husband took me to Ireland two weeks ago, to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. This was a trip I had been waiting for my entire life. I have a bit of McGuire blood, and have felt the Irish in me since I was a wee tater-tot. I knew I would go someday, and I've had a LOT of time to daydream about it.
Well, I nearly died of shock when the hub told me he had figured out how we could make this trip--financially-speaking-wise--and that I was for really reals going to the Emerald Isle. I took off like a Tasmanian devil, planning and plotting and packing and purchasing. And before I knew it we were jetting across the Atlantic, in a reverse (temporary) immigration.
We got there, spent two great days in Dublin, then headed out to the west coast. Which was what I had truly been waiting for. This was where the real Ireland was going to begin. It was going to be green and quaint and perfect. There would be music every night floating on fairies outside my windows, and we'd be "Top o' the morning"-ed and "May the road rise up to meet you"-ed every few minutes.
I imagined that each town would be teeming with ruins and dolmens, druids and harpists, shamrocks and Colin Farrell. I would dance in pubs and sing on cliffs and the luck o' the Irish would be with me.
And it was. It did. Everything was pretty much just like this.
Except I couldn't see it. Not for a while. I spent the first few hours in each town we visited fighting down disappointment. Trying to match what I had imagined with what was before me, and finding it all wanting. And I was mad.
Excuse me? This place had disappointed me. This place wasn't performing up to expectation. This was my dream-vacation! Ireland was supposed to CATER to that! What was it's problem? Nothing was like I had pictured. Some of these towns were *gasp* modern!
Well, eventually I began to realize that my attitude was wrecking our trip--or at least a few of the mornings--and I needed to figure out what the deal was.
After some thought, I realized that the deal was this: I don't get to demand that anything or anyone perform or behave the way I dictate they do. I don't get to make up a story and then hold someone or something else responsible, or worse, captive to it.
Instead what I get to do is pause for a moment and learn what something or someone has to offer--all on it's own. I mean, really see it. And then appreciate them for it. Once I realized this, I began doing it. Which set Ireland, and myself, free. (Also my husband. Who was relieved of his resident trip-harpy.)
And guess what? Ireland was awesome. Much better than anything I had dreamed up. Much more beautiful. And deeper, quieter, funnier, happier, more tragic, harder-working, boot-strappy, musical, and utterly, completely wonderful.
Bet it's like that with people, too.