Ask any diehard Bears fan to watch a Packers’ game. They might amuse you and watch and listen but inside they’ll be uneasy and resistant. And then next Sunday the TV will have players on Solider Field. Because Bears fan.
“People don’t change” has become one of my personal mantras for the last few years. A scorpion is a scorpion and a dog that bites will sink its teeth. That bomb will blow up. And alcoholics will drink.
People will continue to be who they are until their California falls into the Pacific by way of San Andrés. And it won’t be just because of the earthquake. It’ll be because the aftershocks rattled them for months on end afterward. Every day. Ten miles deep.
I don’t really see this personal mantra as pessimistic. My seismograph is valid. For better or worse people are humans and we’re all designed to fail. That’s the biology in the pudding. The good news is that the Cosmic Spirit or the Holy Ghost or God or Ditka or whoever you pray to can fundamentally change who we are. At the atomic level. But only after we’re broken.
But I don’t want to talk about the cosmos making us better people. I want to talk about another well accepted mantra. The one about “expectations” being bad. I don’t buy that any more than I buy that everything is an illusion. Expectations are indifferent on their own. Just like outcomes and assumptions.
My point is that if I expect somebody to be any different than they are, that’s a loss. If I expect somebody to be exactly who they are, that’s a win.
It’s my job to manage expectations in ways that make sense. Dynamite is for big holes kinda thing. I’m not an ace at this by any means being more of an emotional firecracker, but knowing which road to take is still a good thing to write down when I’m not sure.
And then the magic of expectations is really the things in life that I don’t expect to happen. The things without seismometer blips.
The sudden sunshine after a Thursday thunderstorm. A favorite can of soda forgotten and found. A four leaf clover on February 14th. Alanis Morissette on the radio after a shit day at work.
Those are the phenomenons worth paying attention to. The miracles and blessings that I never knew were coming. Those open my eyes to a way of seeing the universe like I hadn’t before. To a way that I didn’t even know that I didn’t know about.
To tie it all together with a hopeful plaid bow, let people surprise you with their change. It’s not our job to manage that. It’s theirs.
And then thank Horace Walpole.