Thursday, September 29, 2011


I was thinking about expectations.  Did you ever see that movie "As Good As It Gets" starring Jack Nicholson?  He plays a major-league neurotic, beset by demons, fetishes, phobias, rituals and, mainly, a huge lack of love, and in one scene, he goes to his psychiatrist and asks for an impromptu appointment.  Rebuffed, he asks the doc, "How can you diagnose me as being obsessive-compulsive, and then act like I have any choice in the matter?"

Heeeeeeere's Melvin!
I'm the worst at this, so I'm writing this to remind myself that it might be a good idea not to expect everyone to live up to our own standards.  There could be many reasons why that co-worker seemed brusque in the hallway the other morning.  Perhaps he just found out some sad medical news about a loved one.   And sometimes, we go out of our way to give a special gift to someone, and they seem less than thrilled about it.  It just might be that they are dealing with more problems than a gift, no matter how well-intended, can wipe away.

The old scout says, "Walk a mile in my shoes," but you might not like to try that.  Size 13 Rockports with elegant orthotic insoles might not do it for you. But that's what I wear.  Others can strut around in TopSiders or camp moccasins, but if I did that, my arches would fall faster than Rick Perry's presidential aspirations.  I'm not complaining  at all; I don't mind my lumbering gait, but if anyone expects me to join the track team, I'm going to have to let you down!

I saw one of those internet passarounds once that said don't holler when an older couple drives slowly in front on you; they might be going to the hospital for the last time.  Ask anyone who has lived through depression or famine, and they will tell you that a simple salad with no fancy croutons or anything can seem like the greatest meal you ever had, if you haven't had a meal for a while.  

We never know when the kind word we pass along, even if it seems to make no ostensible difference to the listener, might just be the one bit of encouragement that keeps them going.  And kind words are free for nothing, a big plus in these tight economic times.

And what are the sweetest gifts of all?  I think it's one thing to really really really want a suede jacket for Christmas at age 17, and then get it, but it's even better when someone goes out of their way to get you something special for no reason at all.  That's one of the ten thousand sweet things that Peggy does all the time, for me and for lots of others, and she has a way of surprising you - just when you weren't expecting it!

Expecting, expectations. We never know.  And maybe it's best that we don't.

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