Great Expectations

 "Expectations. That's one of the reasons why they fail," I said. I was talking to a group about relationships.

"Women expect certain things from men. Like how men should remember the tiny details of their lady's lives. Because if they don't, then somehow the relationship isn't going well."

Some of the women thought about this, but I wasn't sure if they agreed.

So I continued, "Or if a couple is married, the wife is not obligated to have sex with her husband if she doesn't feel like it." He would expect it, of course. "But there's no law stating she has to. So if the husband forces himself on her, it's rape."

A woman then said, "But we have to deal with reality."

I wasn't sure what she meant by that as our conversation was interrupted. But she might have meant that if it had been the married couple's anniversary, then they should celebrate it. Or if they had kids, then both the mother and father would be expected to care for them equally.

Sometimes shit happens, life gets in the way, and things don't happen to plan.

I key in on the word 'reality' because it varies moment by moment. But how?

I met up with a friend I hadn't seen for a while, and he told me he had a hell of a year.

"2016 has been relentless."

Life had shit on him. Our friends had shit on him. None of them wanted to celebrate his birthday, so I offered, took him out to dinner at a sports bar.

"I'm thinking of moving to Seattle," he said.

"Why?" I asked.

"Have you noticed that white women don't want to be with Asian men here?"

"No. I've seen plenty of white women with Asian men."

He gave me a look like I was telling him a far-fetched lie.

I told him that our minds filter out a lot of stuff from the world.

"If I asked you to count all the blue things at the bar, you'd only look for blue things. Right?"

He nodded.

"How many red things would you have noticed?"

"I get your point."

Reality is determined by what we want to see and not necessarily what is in the world. Because everything is in the world. The good. The bad. And the ugly. But our conscious minds cannot handle everything. So it filters out almost all of it, giving us what we think is reality.

And moving to Seattle or any other place wouldn't have change my friend's reality because he'd take his filter, or prejudice, with him. But once he drops this filter, this mindset, then it doesn't matter where he is, he'll be able to change his reality on the go.

This applies to relationships too.

My first girlfriend had asked, "Do you remember the song that was playing on the radio when we first made out?"

I hesitated, scouring my mind for that song, a process made harder because I don't remember names to songs. This was during the age of cassette tapes. That's TAPES. iPods had yet to be invented where songs were displayed on a monochromatic display. Not only that, other processes in my body were taking place as my senses were filled with new experiences I had only imagined. So remembering a vague song wasn't on my list of priorities in that moment.

But she had wanted assurances that I loved her, that every minute we spent together was treasured by me. So if I remembered the name of that song, then in her mind, I loved her. And that was simply not true. Despite my inability to recall the name of the song, I did love her.

In contrast, she had glossed over me taking her to Disneyland for her first time. She loved all things Disney. Her room was full of memorabilia: stuffed animals, posters, movies. It was a Disney store.

For our first Christmas, I had bought some Disney dollars and gifted them to her as a hint to where I would be taking her that weekend. It took her a little bit, but she realized where we were going. She wasn't as excited as I thought she would be, and I was disappointed with that.

Now, a lot of women would say, "It's the little things that count."

Okay, gurlfriend. I had seen that she loved Disney. Heard her telling me she'd never been to The Happiest Place On Earth. Found a creative way to tell her. And scraped enough money to take her.

She saw this grand gesture, but she didn't see the little things that led up to it. I thought I had dun good. That's DUN. Past tense of...uh...

For me to have had expected her to jump for joy and run around and scream her head off with the prospect of going to Disneyland for her first time was wrong. Whether she was excited or not didn't say anything about me. She had been dealing with something difficult in her life, and I needed to understand that. That is how I should have shown love.

I'm not saying don't have expectations. Have them. But be aware that when they aren't met, other things could be going on that are outside of our sight and control. From this place, peace can be had because when our expectations aren't met, it's often out of our hands.