I have great expectations, and these are things I constantly seem to struggle with. Yet I do not feel like I am struggling with myself or my own expectations of myself. On the contrary: I feel like I struggle first and foremost with my expectations of others, with feeling disappointed, and with trying to manage and cope with my incessant state of disappointment.
If I didn’t expect so much, might I be disappointed less?
Well, yes and no. Yes, it totally makes logical sense … but no, it isn’t possible to live at all without expectations. We open our eyes because we expect to see something. Otherwise, moving our eyelids is just a waste of energy. We put one foot forward because we expect the surface underneath to be solid enough to walk upon. We expect the sun to come out tomorrow. We expect all the time. Most of living is made up of expectations.
Well, how about setting expectations which we can achieve by ourselves? OK that sounds very nice — can you explain to me how that actually works? How do you yourself put dinner on the table? Does that not kind of depend on whatever is being dined upon? … and a table? … and gravity? … and many things more?
I find gravity and sunlight and a long list of natural phenomena to be quite dependable. I feel OK with being quite certain of such expectations. People, not so much. Then there is a wide range of things somewhere in between: animals, plants, lightning, all sorts of natural wonders and disasters, … but let’s stick with people — since they are, after all, closely linked to most of my own disappointments. Why are they so undependable?
Obviously, this is such a complicated question that it seems like a gargantuan problem. Yet let me sketch out a few inklings and hunches (or “wannabe observations”). First of all, there is this notion of free will — enough said (I’m definitely not going down that rabbit hole at this moment). Then there is social order — and this is indeed very central to the present book project. To what degree is a very strict social order along the lines of “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” a method for creating reliability and dependability with respect to expectations of personal character? I do not know at all. Is it admissable to follow the hunch that perhaps the more relaxed attitudes of the present day encourage widespread shoulder-shrugging and carelessness about personal responsibility for actions? Is society (or a “loose” social order) responsible for crimes committed? Wrecking havoc? Lack of trust? Wanting dependability?
I will simply stop here abruptly, before I mistakenly jump to unwarranted conclusions.