The other day on the phone, my twin sister Katherine asked me, like only a twin sister can, "Laura, why do you keep going to the bakery for broccoli?" The issue Katherine was addressing in that conversation is related to ancient childhood history, but hearing those words made me feel suddenly like I could deal, not just with that specific issue, but with every problem in my life, by just figuring out what the bakery actually sold.
This question has been on my mind for days. It's one of those Peter Sellers, "Being There" comments that can mean everything and nothing simultaneously. It means not expecting my six-year-old to actually unload the dishwasher when I really need it. It means not expecting my neighbor to give me an honest answer about what he really thinks about my hedges. It means being reasonable and thoughtful about what to expect from a partner, a parent, a friend.
It's kind of depressing, but liberating at the same time-- the more we know someone, the better able we are to temper expectations of that person. For example, I have a friend who inadvertently (or subconsciously) makes little jabs at projects I am involved with. Really subtle, maybe funny, but they're jabs. I could say, "Screw her, I'm done with this friendship" or I could say, "She's got issues, man, they're not mine" and make a mental note to not involve her with projects I love.
It seems like the bakery/broccoli question is everywhere I turn. Except yoga. I realized it today in practice as I drifted in and out of the question... "What is the bakery/broccoli part of my practice?" I turned it over seventeen different ways, but no matter the angle, it just didn't fit. What a relief! The yoga room, my sanctuary from the everyday, is the one place where I don't assume anything, so I never have to adjust my expectations. Now I just have to sort out the rest of my life.