Expectation is a strange and ugly beast. Most of the fights and nearly all of the heartache in this world can be boiled down to unmet expectations. It’s easy to forget that the world owes us nothing, and if it did, it would never acknowledge the debt. So many of us have difficulty with the painful lesson that the world does not love us. Neither does it hate us. It simply lacks the capacity to care. We say, The World, or The Universe, in proper noun capitalization, as if either were an entity with a mind and a heart that is conscious of us. It isn’t.
Even society, made up of billions of minds, isn’t a conscious being. It is a hive without a mind. In fact, it’s rather like an amoral version of Dr. Dolittle’s pushmepullyou; a dithering head at either end with a voracious belly in between. Try to ride it and it’s likely to devour you, two tidy bites at a time.
It isn’t surprising that we often expect the world, or at least society, to care for us. All the time we are growing up we are told repeatedly what we “have a right to expect” from the world. Then we get a zapped at some point in our young adulthood with the discovery that the world had no knowledge of these expectations and further, has no plans to meet them. If expectations, or even needs, are to be met we’re going to have to do it ourselves. The disappointment can be crushing.
The only way to avoid that blow is to realize that the world can do nothing for us, and it isn’t going to try. But we can, and should, do what we can for the world. Our best shot is to put aside the childish notion that the world is bound to give to us, and realize the beautiful truth that we are instead, created to give back to the world.