If we begin with certainties, we shall end in doubts; but if we begin with doubts, and are patient in them, we shall end in certainties. -Francis Bacon
What is it about certainty and expectation that shift as we age? Think about it. We expect a level of certainty when we are young. The certainty of toys, pets, parents, homes, teachers, school. Maybe not everything at once, but for most of us, yes, we come of age trusting in the order of the world. Even if it is as simple as my son’s present philosophy: “I can’t wait until I’m twenty-one and get to be my own boss.” Okay, at ten he’s a little misguided, but at least he has definite expectations.
Now in my mid-forties, I’m not sure what I can really expect from life. I have already lived my share of uncertainty and crushed expectations when my first husband died, so today I view people and relationships and health and longevity with cautious optimism and trust in the impermanent nature of living things. The more expectations I carry in life – and this is as broad as the weather and specific as my children, family and the writing grant I wanted but didn’t get – the more disappointment I tend to feel. Rarely do people, situations and things bend to our expectations, and it’s foolhardy to believe that we wield godly power to affect the outcomes of our desires. Sometimes things just happen that defy logic or expectation of any sort.
On that note, this is my new religion: the blank canvas. The open book. Delight and wonder as they happen. Fresh starts.
Better not to spin myself into a dither worrying about things beyond my control. Better, I think, to reframe and hold to the few certainties I can count on: the stunning sweep of the Rocky mountains that meet my gaze each day; the pleasing taste of the morning’s first coffee; and books that don’t talk back.