Some days ago, we had our area Mass. After the Mass and the dinner were over, some of us sat back and were having a nice discussion about our lives. Lona* told us about an elderly gentleman she had happened to meet once. She told us that this man looked extremely fit, positive and happy. “What is the secret, sir?” Lona had asked him. The man had pointed to a wall-hanging in his office. It said, “Drop your expectations… to drop your sorrows.”
Lona was quite impressed not only by the zest of this man… but also by the ring around the statement. “Drop your expectations… to drop your sorrows.”
Many ladies in the group immediately agreed with message conveyed by the statement. “True,” they all said, “our miseries are always linked to our expectations. We need to drop them.”
“But, madams, how can you drop your expectations?” Neslon * asked. “Come on, we can’t drop them the way we drop a hot potato from our hand!”
“Why can’t?” was an angry reaction. “Of course, we can drop our expectations.”
“Okay. Tell me how?” Nelson, though appeared cornered, did not want the discussion to end.
I could sense the heat building up. The ladies thought they could drop expectations… and, Neslon wanted to know how they could do it!
By now, emotions had walked in. The human ego had made our friends to take hard positions. I thought I could say something and ended up saying this: “Now, can we drop this discussion and go home?”
It was almost impossible! It was mid-night!
About twelve years ago, the young and beautiful Lona had lost her husband. She was barely 30 and was left with a five-year-old son to fend. Lona’s husband had died after a long battle with failed kidneys. The young man had the kidney problem before the marriage, and Lona’s married life immediately took its traumatic turn. The condition of her husband worsened as days passed by, and, one day, he had to give up. Lona felt cheated… for having kept her in the dark when she was walking into his life… She felt cheated by her husband, her in-laws, her own parents, and above all, her Fate. “Why me?” “And, why at this young age?” These questions consumed Lona’s life for many years to come. There were constant tussles with her in-laws after the death of her husband… and, there was this struggle to make her two ends meet, live a dignified life. She was young and beautiful… and, there was this battle to deal with her emotional and physical demons.
Yes, for Lona, there were ‘expectations’ from a married life.
Twelve years on, this evening, Lona was pitching for the statement, “Drop your expectations… to drop your sorrows.” Twelve years on, she still looked to us young and beautiful… and, she did look fit, positive and happy. And, here was Nelson - asking Lona and her friends, “How can we drop our expectations? Tell me how?”
Probably, Lona wouldn’t have been able to describe ‘How.’ It was a futile exercise… It was pointless. Her life had become a ‘Symbol’… the ‘Sign’ was no more relevant!
I remembered an old story.
Once a businessman heard about a holy man who could walk on water. He thought if he too learnt from the holy man how to walk on water, the publicity would boost his business. So, he met the holy man and expressed his desire. The holy man, after hearing out the businessman, said, “Well, all that you need to do is practice this simple meditation every day for an hour, eat this simple food and say these simple prayers... I promise you will be able to walk on water as I do.”
“Is that so simple?” the elated businessman cried, “Sir, I can’t wait, any longer, to learn from you. Let’s start right away.”
“All right, my friend,” the holy man said and guided him to his room. Before the businessman could close the door, the holy man said, “Just one little thing more.”
The businessman looked to his master to ask, “What is that?”
“Just remember not to think about monkeys.” The master, so saying, went away.
The moment the door was closed, the first thing the businessman saw in his mind was a monkey. When he closed his eyes, a dozen moneys began to jump around him… some did their dance, some did their mischief, and some did their monkey business. When he walked out of the room, that evening, he saw half a dozen monkeys on the top of his car… When we walked into his car, couple of them swung into his car, too, and drove him crazy, all along his way. That night, monkeys were in his bathroom as he took his shower, and on his bed, next to him, slept not only his wife, but also half a dozen female monkeys! In his dream arrived , from nowhere, an army of monkeys… And, by the time he rose the next morning, he had gone mad. Monkey mad!
He just couldn’t drop the monkeys!
How can I meditate?
How can I drop my expectations?
How can I drop my sorrows?
Hey, how can I drop this monkey?
* Names changed