“Oft expectation fails, and most oft there.
Where most it promises.”
Last night, at 9pm, I drove halfway across the city to pickup my son from his Robotics Team meeting – just like my wife did earlier this week, and like we’ll be doing most weeknights from now through March.
I was tired, and was more ready for bed than the road. It seemed hard.
But it was about the time I was thinking how hard it was to be out so late, when a thought popped into my head.
“Compared to what?”
That’s the million dollar question. For a thing to have value, it needs to be compared against another thing – often against our expectations.
- A dollar bill is worthless compared to a hundred dollar bill, but it’s quite valuable to the person looking for a deal at the Dollar Store.
- A 42″ flat panel tv is puny compared to an 80″ mega-screen, but it’s an amazing leap from the days of a 13″ vacuum tube.
- A Big Gulp is big, but not compared to a 2-liter bottle.
- Holding a door for someone may seem trivial to the holder, but incredibly helpful to the person who walks through it juggling four boxes, a purse, and their car keys.
The comparisons we make help determine whether or not a thing or an idea has value. Those comparisons are based on our mood, experience, theology, philosophies, and ideology. And comparisons go hand in hand with our expectations.
Our expectations are all held in a box. The tighter our adherence to one set of philosophies, the smaller the box. Learning to loosen our grip on the ideas to which we compare everything can offer not only fresh insight, but reduce stress because it enlarges our box of expectations. It is easier to fit a new idea in a bigger box.
Driving across town at 9pm isn’t my favorite thing to do. But when I compare it to the great opportunity my son gets from working on a challenging project with other bright, engaged students the sacrifice looks pretty puny.
My box of expectations just got a little larger … Even if I lost a little sleep.
Yesterday’s gift of time … picked up my son late at night from his team meeting, grabbing a snack for him in expectation of his hunger.