To some extent, we are always bound up in expectation. We expect that similar actions will lead to similar results. We expect gravity to work as it always has, for the sun to rise and set, and for the days to unfold in the same sequence. We seek and generally find stability in repetition, habit, and expectation.
But, even though it feels like the ground on which we walk, the familiar sequence also invites us to sleep. Instead of perceiving the unveiling majesty of the world, we begin to see only the familiar abstractions we’ve built up in our minds. Instead of actively choosing the path on which we walk, we begin to only react in a self-programmed, automatic fashion to these abstractions.
When we can no longer see and live only as automatons, we sleep.
Despite the potential loss of actually living, expectations are still a good thing. Structure and order is a good background for growth, inner examination, contemplation, and meditation. The effort, therefore, is not striving for the unexpected – but rather, simply inviting the unexpected into our lives. The unexpected abolishes sleep with its abstractions and reactivity, so when we invite it we’re inviting ourselves to have fresh eyes and choose our lives all over again.
At its most basic, inviting the unexpected requires being aware of it when it occurs. To a sleeping mind, the unexpected can seem like an assault – as though your very identity is being threatened when someone disagrees with you or things don’t go according to plan. So, one way to invite the unexpected is to keep watch for your irritation or anger, then examining the situation for the unexpected when they rise in you.
At a deeper level, inviting the unexpected means looking at your schedules with fuzzy vision. Instead of a specific set of tasks, try setting guidelines for yourself. Instead of setting a specific period during which you’ll work, try setting timeframes during which you’re on call – even if you have to be in the physical office, you don’t need to be constantly accomplishing if there’s nothing more than busywork to do, you’re physically ill, or you’re exhausted. Instead of having a set length of time for your meditation, sit until you are satisfied with your practice and peaceful. From diet and exercise to art and self improvement, your time is best spent fully engaged in your activities rather than the duration or goals.
By inviting the unexpected, you’ll edge into a happier, more spiritual life.