Great Expectations

Just one year ago we were living with a German Shepherd puppy who would go to great lengths to avoid a car ride and who simply refused to go up or down stairs.  When we chose Kanti from the litter we had great expectations of a loyal, fearless, athletic puppy.  We failed to consider that she might have a mind of her own or that some of our people expectations might not align with her dog ideas of how the world should be experienced.  In retrospect, I wonder how it is possible to have raised two fiercely independent children to adulthood without having learned the valuable lessons of managing expectations of any kind even those that involve a puppy. 

The alarm went off about 4:00 a.m. triggering a flurry of scurrying to get ready for our flight away from the endless snow to a destination that was warm and sunny.  As we wrestled the suitcase into the vehicle, Kanti stood at the ready by the passenger door with a look of great expectation.  Surely if we were leaving in the car, she would be coming along.  Her reluctance to go for a ride resolved itself long ago, partly because we just refused to give up on our expectation that she would adore coming for a ride with us.  Who wouldn't?

Apart from loving her owner selflessly, Kanti's primary task is to the be sentry at the swake and somehow it just didn't seem wise to try to take her to Arizona for a long weekend.  She isn't a little lap dog that one can tuck under one's arm.  She doesn't qualify to ride along in the plane cabin in one of those cutesy carryon duffel bags, so the alternative would be to fly in her crate along with the suitcases which does not seem very appealing to me.  I can only imagine what Kanti would think of being in her crate in the airport with all those wonderful people walking by.  So Kanti was left behind in the driveway, watching the vehicle depart into the snowy cold blustery morning fully expecting that we would return soon and all would be well.  Her caretakers arrived later in the day to spoil her rotten in our absence so we pulled away without any worry for her well being.

Our exit was accompanied by more of the endless snow that has marked this winter, but we were hopeful because we knew that we would be eating lunch somewhere in the dessert that same day.  We had great expectations of five days of visiting with friends and family amidst the saguaros, of burying our winter coats in the bottom of the suitcase for a brief respite from winter, of breaking out the shorts and sandals to remind ourselves that eventually spring will appear even on the swake.  

Our expectations were fully met, like all the Alberta winter refugees on our airplane the first order of business on arriving was to change out of our jeans and shoes into shorts and sandals.  Aah the pleasure of wiggling ones toes in sandals.  It is only surpassed by being able to eat lunch outdoors in the shade or watching a hummingbird feasting on nectar.  Both activities seem almost miraculous after being cooped up this winter.  Will we ever be able to eat outdoors again?  Will I see that same little hummingbird feeding on my hanging baskets of flowers later this summer? 

I find myself alternating between despair that spring will never happen and expecting it to happen tomorrow.  Its an unsettling fulcrum to sit upon emotionally, tipping one day to despair and the next hour to my great expectations.  Life has taught me that spring does come if I am only patient.  As someone wise said to me, "make sure you manage expectations".  The comment was in regards to a large business project I was leading but it stuck with me, following me into other parts of my life, echoing in my head periodically reminding me to apply a little dose of patience and reality to the expectations.  

Kanti seems to have perfected the art of managing expectations.  She knows she will be well cared for and fed even if we are away for a little while.  She knows that if she sits patiently at the end of the driveway everyday in our absence that she will be rewarded eventually by our return.  She maintains a certain joie de vivre even as she waits expectantly.  Here in lies my learning or maybe it is my challenge; to continue to have and manage great expectations so that I can maintain an indefatigable joie de vivre in the face of another foot of snow!