When I was travelling in Florence I found myself on the first day in an old cathedral named Santa Croce, not too far from the famous Ponte Vecchio and the Arno river. It was here that I sensed an unsettling pressure within me and I realised a part of me was feeling overwhelmed from something. Noticing the opportunity to explore and relieve whatever it was I was feeling I sat down in one of the pews, as other tourists wandered around gazing at the tombs of Niccolò Machiavelli and Galileo and various artworks.
The discomfort came from a pressure I was putting on myself to do everything I possibly could in the short time I was there, and my investigation into this made me realise how impossible and unrealistic this expectation was. This demand I had placed upon myself was in a hurry to see the next sight, treating the break as simply an itinerary to ‘cover’ off, as though I was speeding through a checklist I hadn’t intentionally created.
It was then that I decided to let the burning need to see and do as much as possible go, and when I did, it became clear to me how easy it was for me to enjoy the details of the interior of the grand cathedral I was sitting in. To appreciate the now and what was here, instead of allowing my mind to race onto what was next. I felt such peace and contentment that I just sat in the pew, quietly looking around at the splendor of art and sculptures and the high ceiling. This was what the break was truly for anyway. I didn’t need to do anything, this was good enough and the racing in my mind ceased, allowing me to turn my attention to the details of the now.
Expectation has a two sided purpose, one could be to help us manifest what we want in life and two is a ruminating effect so overwhelming that it begins to drain our happiness in the moment. Perhaps a third purpose is learning to let go of expectations as they arise, and allow what is to be. Everything passes eventually, the good and the bad, and I’ve found the fastest way to contentment is to let go what you think should be and allow for what is. Things we expect to happen exactly as we plan for it rarely ever transpires, it’s called life, but it sets us up for disappointment.
Perhaps there can be faith and belief instead in what is to come, coupled with acceptance for the moment.
We can use the moment as our bedrock, our foundational bottom, to choose how we want to be with ourselves, with others and with life.