Twenty-six days into my Vietnam Adventure (VA), and at last I’m getting around to writing my first blog post. I’ve experienced so many emotions around starting on this blog (after all, I told my friends, family and colleagues I would!). I’ve felt frustrated, confused, irritated, impatient and incompetent in the waiting. I realized early on, that the topic for the first post was destined to be expectations. The first 3.5 weeks of this journey have been an opportunity to deepen my experience of dealing with the world of expectations.
To begin, I was immediately faced with the reality of coping with a last-minute change in what my focus for volunteering in Vietnam would be. Originally it was yoga. I created an entire plan around starting a volunteer yoga project in Vietnam during the four months leading up to my departure. For reasons that are still unknown to me, all that has changed. While I’ve twisted my mind, heart, spirit and body around trying to find the positives and ways to accept this shift, the disappointment has still been there. It is painful even in this moment to acknowledge and feel.
Secondly, the impetus for my coming to Vietnam, was to experience living in a developing country – to be more connected to poverty. I arrived to the city where we will be living to find a village that is quickly becoming a small bustling city (and even a hot spot for tourists interested in caves). Not only is it absolutely lovely, but it is also so much more developed than what I had expected or remembered. Confusion. Disappointment. Uncertainty. Wait, am I now going to miss the entire purpose and possibility of this experience? Will I miss out on the transformation that while unknown, felt like a “sure thing?”
Thirdly, my husband and I had requested a modest home, with bare minimum necessities for safety during our time in Dong Hoi City. When I saw the outside of the home, and realized it was 3 stories high, I immediately thought we must be on just one of the floors. But no, the entire space is ours. It is about twice the size of the apartment we had in Seattle. Wait, didn’t I set the intention to live in a more challenging environment for this period of time?
Through the variety of spiritual practices I’ve encountered thus far in my life, working with expectations has been at the heart of what it means to live with a greater sense of ease. In 12-steps I’ve heard it said that expectations are “resentments waiting to happen.” Wow, let’s sit with that one for a moment. It feels a little harsh to me. And I’ve struggled with the subtle difference between expectations and setting intentions. Through Landmark I learned about being a creator of possibility in my life. So now what? So many of the things I was “creating” are different than what I had wanted, hoped, and planned to experience.
Of course, there are no easy answers, and I’d love to hear from you about how you navigate the world of expectations. In what areas of your life do you tend to set expectations most often (whether consciously or unconsciously)? What do the results tend to be? How do you manage disappointment, resentment, or other emotions you encounter?
I’m delighted to share in the journey of my Vietnam Adventure, and look forward to hearing about ways in which our lives may be connected, intertwined and parallel in spite of differences in continents, cultures, food, temperatures, and all those details we are present to in our daily lives. Wherever you may be in your sea of expectations, may we be filled with love and grace for ourselves and others.