Saturday, March 7, 2009

Expectations, Part 1

My backyard yesterday morning.

Yesterday afternoon, Oregon Trail.

December, same trail.

Last weekend, it was 60 degrees outside. Bruce trimmed the rose bushes, took the sand out of the trunks of the cars and in general did the yard work for an early spring. Then, three days later, the snow came back. Not as much as in December, but enough. My poor roses...

Our expectation was that the weather would continue warm as it had been. We made decisions and acted upon those decisions according to the expectation. But of course, the expectation turned out to be wrong. Which got me to thinking, how often does that occur in our creative careers? Where do we act upon expectations and then find myself stunned by the result? Why do we have such expectations?

Part of it must be because of those sneaky feelings, hope and desire. Of course, without hope and desire no one would ever attempt anything creative. It's hard work. If we didn't have the desire to create and the hope of success, why try? But often, we fall into magical thinking. Along the lines of "if I attend this workshop and learn more of how to paint/write/any other creative endeavor then I'm sure to sell then" or "if I write this novel/paint this painting/photograph in this new fashionable bestseller style I'm sure it'll be the answer" or even "If I buy a new computer with this new software or this new camera or this new paint brush or paints or whatever then..."

How to avoid the pitfalls of time and expense that often comes from such thinking? I've always found that returning to my source line works. By that, I mean recognizing that the wild expectations come out of a true passion. (It's time for it to be spring so it is.) And that searching for simple solutions or shortcuts is only human nature.

Finally, roses are tough and will most likely survive. Quite possibly, their color will be deeper for the experience. Same as with creative people.

So what do you do when your expectations run wild? What happens? Is the experience disappointing or invigorating? Or both?

Next up: Good expectations (there are some).


Lynda Lehmann said...

I always tell myself, Conda, that life is only the sum of how we live our little moments. And that great successes are born of tiny successes, all tied together.

I try to focus on the process itself, painting or writing, and not the outcome. I let things take their course, and just try to learn a little from each experience. I also do take great joy from all forms of creative process.

I think that for me, the key is focusing on the process. That way I'm not allowing myself to have unrealistic expectations. Especially since I had breast cancer a few years back, I just dive into my work and DO IT! My feeling is that even though I have a supposedly good prognosis, I can't afford to waste any time.

Looks like your weather is as fickle as ours has been.

I hope and think that your roses will be okay. :)

The Muse said...

Hello Conda!

Today we're getting a bit of rain (drizzle). Not what we've been wanting since we're in the midst of a drought with water restrictions and all-we really need a deluge. My hopes for a downpour are still alive though. You know, April showers and such.

My roses must be pulled this spring. They have not survived our lack of rain and cold snaps. I am hopeful I can successfully transfer my Nandina bed to the rose bed. Where the roses are now would keep the deer, hopefully, from using the Nandinas as a salad bar buffet.

Hope is what you put into it. If you find failure in one spot transfer it to another. To me this is invigorating, a welcome challenge. When my expectations run wild I go with the flow. If I hit a blockade, I jump over it or run around it.

Have a wonderful day!

Conda Douglas said...

Lynda--you go girl! Yes, sometimes we need a wake up call (hopefully not cancer) to remind us that the moment is all we have. And I believe "focusing on the process" is much the same as "returning to my source line."

Conda Douglas said...

Run with it, Muse!I love your metaphor of the roses and then planting something different in the spot, something that might be far more successful. And really it's the attempts that lead to success.

Kathy McIntosh said...

Wow, good post, great comments. I've been working hard to focus on what's most important to me and to take joy in the process. And not fuss when other priorities intrude, because that just draws off energy.
Muse, what the heck is a Nandina?

Dave King said...

I'm afraid I'm just an incurable optimist. If expectations are not met this time, I do become disappointed - with myself, usually _ but all will be well next time, I am sure. Well, not sure, sure, but pretty sure!

Swubird said...


I have to agree with everybody who commented so far. I go with the flow, little steps at a time. In other words, I try to enjoy the journey to the end of the rainbow and not just the post of gold at its end.

Happy trails.

Conda Douglas said...

Kathy, yes! So true. If I focus only on what I'm writing instead of the endless what-ifs, it works so much better.

And Kathy asked--Nandina?

Conda Douglas said...

Dave--there's a lot of strength in optimism--especially for us creative types--without it I'd never "try, try again"!

Conda Douglas said...

Yeah, Swu, and people tend to forget that when we get to the pot, the journey's OVER!