Expectations Vs. Experiences
You know those moments where you stumble upon something, a thing off the beaten path of your mind, and suddenly you can feel the steady beating in your chest and your eyes widening, the creases deepening on your face without you meaning for them to? And you can sort of feel the oxygen flooding your body, you’re inhaling until you nearly burst with air. You could almost laugh, but nothing’s funny. You feel whole, physically. You’re happy, or euphoric, or at peace, or whatever it’s called when everything feels right.
I think you live to search for the next moment like that, don’t you? Without those moments punctuating time, life feels dull, and so you search.
You scan the faces on the sidewalks, in the cars, in the coffee shop lines, looking for a face to go next to yours. You look for the face that would look like your son’s.
You dig in the plans, the ones that could work and the ones that never did, digging for the one that is your supposed path. It’s the one that has your name embroidered on it. You wring the cities and towns dry, looking for the signals and the symbols to guide you. You’re looking for a compass that points toward happiness, whatever that means.
Searching is tedious when there are so many thoughts and moments to push through, pushing through the traffic and the noise. Searching is especially tedious when you don’t know what you’re searching for. You know you’re searching for something great, striving for a dream. You thought you almost found it once, or maybe twice — it’s possible the count is even higher. You thought you found the method that would bring an abundance of those awe-inducing, wonderful, clear moments, but you arrived and it stood you up.
That’s because you can’t possibly know your dream until it’s happening. The expectations lining your skull, barricading your thoughts, those expectations dampen your experiences. The fragments of life that make you feel like the world is all right — beautiful — and you’re in the right place at the right time, and you could be sure your heart is actually swelling in your chest, are the moments that are never expected. They’re not written in an agenda. You don’t wake up that morning with a warning of them. They fall as they do, and they sweep you off the dirty road you’re on and take you away for a while.
It’s troubling to avoid searching for them, but as your lining of expectations thickens, you’ll find the other side never looks like you thought it would. The people you found aren’t sculpted as you wanted. The plans you made cracked, and the places you traveled to didn’t give answers in their walls. You begin living outside of your head, begin seeing what’s there in front of you, without mingling hopes with facts, and without manipulating what is with what should be.
Then, it happens.
It’s there, flooding your body and glowing around you like an aura. You find the feeling in its raw, unexpected form. It’s not as you imagined — because you stopped imagining it.
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The best thing about being a young adult right now is that you, more than any previous generation, have the freedom and the resources to create your own religion. So, let’s get started.
The apartment you lived in your first year out of school, the walk-up with a view of the street.
I wanted to quit my job. I hated my boss.
His eyes widened, he became angry, and backed off of me. I told him he could leave now. Now. He said “With you being a good Christian girl, and me studying to be a priest, I think it’s important we not tell anyone what we did.”