Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Burden of Expectation

Today is the first day of summer break. And, the first day of my year-long sabbatical.  Let's Party!

Or not. . .

Today already I feel the pressure.  How?!?

It's my first day off but I quickly realized how strongly I suffer from the burden of expectations. Of course I am excited about my sabbatical-- it promises a time filled with reflection, rejuvenation, possibility, and learning.  And, I know what is expected of me from others. I have a well defined project dealing with dance notation that is exciting and achievable.  (Expect more on this in the future)

But, what do I expect from myself during this time?

A lot.

. . and high expectations have been with me all of my life.  Occasionally people mistake me for a perfectionist.  I'm not. . . anyone who has seen my house or seen me in rehearsal knows that I enjoy improvisation more than controlled perfection.  But, I do have high expectations for myself. 

I have worked hard and achieved great things including a solid job (which has granted me a year long sabbatical), a national presence amongst dance educators and a rewarding marriage and home life. But, these self induced expectations follow me.  Today was my first official day of summer and my mind was reeling with the question "What should I do?" "What do I need to do?" and then I rested on "What do I want to do?"

This next year (essentially 16 months including both summers) will bring things I can't imagine. And, while I have some structure in place (with my notation project), I am not exactly sure what this year will bring. 

Of course, the lesson is that we can never know.  We encounter life moment by moment and expectations often get us in trouble because they so often closely align with assumptions.  I don't want to live this next year according to my expectations. My expectations are a burden that I no longer want to carry.  Instead I am ready to look toward intention.  Yeah, it's a somewhat corny (and über-trendy) way of talking about life.  But, living according to an intention is the only way to live without becoming attached to an outcome.  When we live by expectation we are bound to either exceed, meet or fall short of them.  But, when we live by intention we are bound to discover the unknown as it unfolds in front of us and better enjoy ourselves along the way. 

This year will bring the unexpected.  But, I intent to take advantage of all that comes my way. 

How do you intend to spend your summer? Your year? Your life?

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