Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holiday Expectations

We enter into almost every situation with some kind of expectation of how it will be. This is especially true during the Holiday Season.

We are told over and over again, in story and song, what a happy time of year this is supposed to be, or we see images of the perfect family gathering on commercials and magazine ads. I'm always reminded of the Norman Rockwell painting, "Saying Grace," with grandma and grandpa presiding over the Thanksgiving table. The reality of things is often very different.

Our desire for things to be pleasant is noble and wholesome - there is nothing wrong with the desire itself. As we learned from the Monkey Trap blogs (11/16 & 11/17/09), it is the clinging to these desires that cause suffering. (
A few years ago, Kathy told me that if you have an open hand, you can both give and receive; with a clenched fist you can do neither.) In addition, clinging to an expectation blinds us from seeing the wonder and happiness that is already present, even if things seem to be going terribly wrong.

In the next few days, as the holidays begin to move into high gear, notice your expectations of people and situations as they arise. Realize that they are expectations - thoughts - and not facts in that moment. Release the tight fist of grasping, and greet each moment with an open mind and a spacious heart. This does not mean that we expect the worst, but it does mean that we are present with this moment as it is, not as we wish it would be.

From Thich Nhat Hanh:
The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.

(From Touching Peace, 1992, Parallax Press
ISBN 0-938077-57-0)

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