October 7, 2009

Unexpected Things

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One day, while enjoying my morning walk, I approached a scraggly tree that forced me to duck under its branches overhanging the sidewalk. This sparse, dry, bush was as overgrown and unkempt as desert sagebrush. While passing beneath the ugly tree, I could see small blossoms protruding from the brittle twigs, so I pulled one near for inspection. Then, came a completely unexpected surprise; the blossom was exquisitely beautiful and as delicate as an orchid.




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Many, pass their exercising miles away accompanied by an ipod, listening to motivating music, or as my neighbor, Ed, prefers, books on tape. Personally, I like to hear to the sounds of the earth. After a mile or so, I find myself deep in thought; solving, not just my problems, but the world’s. It was in such a mood this little flower found me.

I began to reflect on how much lovelier things can be when they come unexpectedly. Contrasted against ugly foliage, this blossom was more beautiful, more appreciated, than if it were growing, predictably, on a lush tropical plant. I thought of how that principle applies to other things in life. A stranger offers to let you go ahead in line or you find a dollar in the road; experiences sweetened by the unexpected.

In college, my mother and I took a theatre class in London, England; a very special time together, that I will never forget. One of the first afternoons, we had some free time; with map in hand, we boarded the subway to find Buckingham Palace. In a strange country, with racing traffic going the wrong way, we walked up and down streets until we turned a corner . . . . and the sight we beheld took my breath away. It was Big Ben. I stood transfixed, teary eyed, thinking of how proudly it had withstood Hitler's bombings in WWII and how magnificently it stood before me that day. Yes, we did find Buchingham Palace and many other wonderful sights during our month long stay, but nothing . . . nothing eclipsed the dramatic surprise we met rounding that corner.


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Recently, I overheard Chloe speaking on the phone with my sister, Marsha. Chloe handled herself with such well mannered maturity; I realized that at some time when I wasn't looking, she had grown up, yet a little more. I had no idea she had developed such grace.

I reflected on times I’ve set myself up for disappointment by anticipating too much out of situations, and people; benefits overshadowed by unrealistic expectations. Imposing my value system on others, judging them, invariably leads to unfair evaluation. It is so much better to appreciate what someone did than be disappointed by what they did not do. This isn’t to say we should have low expectations of others, but to curb our judgments of them. I am a lot happier when I don’t expect people to do things exactly the way I would do them and I surely appreciate it when others do the same for me. It's hard though, I like to be in control of situations and it has been a challenge for me to let go of the grip, to let life take its own path.

When Chloe was on the phone, I had let down for a moment, relaxed my control. Instead of managing her . . . . this once, I was just listening. In that moment, caught off guard, I was delighted by her maturity and manners. It was like finding a beautiful blossom at the end of a twig, pleasantly unexpected.



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7 comments:

The Chrissy Herself said...

Beautiful post, Mom! I always have to try and tell myself to not expect too much from things and that way I'm never disappointed, and many times the complete contrary... pleasantly surprised! I think some things we need to have high expectations, but in most things, we don't. And life is much more refreshing that way.

Steve said...

Another wonderful post!
I used to "expect" so many things to happen on vacations and holidays that I was always disappointed. Now I do enjoy finding the "flower on the twig" in my life.
Also, in my business, when I rent out one of our rental houses, the tenants invariably tell me that they will keep the house cleaner than it's ever been. I say to them "Great" but to myself I say "We will see".
I have learned that the truth is, we can only control what we do. We can't control all that happens to us or what others do.

Marci said...

So true! I struggle constantly with not expecting too much from people or worrying about things others do that aren't the way I would do them.

The Chrissy Herself said...

I LOVE that picture of you and grandma that you added! That is an awesome picture. The clothes, the year, the location, the quality, the people, the whole vibe. SUCH a great picture.

LaRee said...

I had forgotten about your London trip...I think Steve was on a mission then, so we were sort of out of the loop back then...love the pic of you and your mom!

Jennifer Gibbs Kambourian said...

Oooh, the photo of you and mom brings back such memories! I remember when you goys got back, hearing you both tell the "finding Big Ben" story...mom had tears as she told it. I always loved that story. Marsha told me a few days ago that she found that wonderful scrapbook you made of that trip, and that it's in Susie's room...I'd love to see that again when we're in Fresno this New Years. P.S. I LOVE your "writing voice..."
Love, Jenn

Brittany said...

I had someone tell me they live without expectations because they were tired of being let down. Without becoming pessimistic I have since filtered my anticipation in some ways so that I truly appreciate and am often pleasantly surprised but what transpires. It makes life a little easier to handle when I relinquish assumptions and enter into situations open-minded with how they will turn out, while taking care of what IS in my control. It helps me find my own flowers among twigs :)

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I married my high school sweetheart 34 years ago in the LDS Temple. I have 4 children (3 married, and a 14 year old) and 6 grandchildren. I lived my entire life in California, until 6 years ago. I now reside in San Antonio, Texas. The most important thing to me is my family; I have invested the most in them and it has paid great dividends. I love doing anything creative that beautifies my surroundings and I love nature. I minored in Art and majored in Interior Design at BYU, yet, my profession is a Tax Preparer.

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