What I have to say here may not be everyone's cup of tea, I get that. In my own journey, I have done lengthy work in order to be very ok with being my own cup of what others might think is some really bad tea.
What We See
What I want to spill here, has to do with our minds. Our souls. Our hearts. Our existence as we know it. And the thing about that is, our own versions of each of the above are just that and nothing more - our own. Because you see, our life is very simply only what we perceive of it.
We see what our eyes see, right? Maybe. Because what we think we are seeing "with our own eyes", is processed by our minds. Our minds, made up of cells, chemicals, energy, radiation, atoms...it's a long list. Smaller and smaller pieces of our universe working together to allow us to perceive sights. All of our senses, understood by our own minds. In my own mind, the deeper I go down this path of thinking, which again is merely something taking place in this mind within my skull made up of all these things, the more boggling the idea of any semblance of reality becomes.
In this train of thought, it follows that everything that to us is a reality is truly only our version of it, whatever "it" is. Knowledge, perhaps, which is a whole other topic for discussion. This puts a whole new spin on everything. Human interaction - our disagreements, our love, our beliefs, our common threads - nothing more than these minds of ours at work, creating perceptions and subsequently directing our actions. It's pretty insane when you really let it sink in. But what does sane even mean, really... that something is more likely perceived as good by others? Food for thought.
As time ticks on, our minds have this tendency to collect perceptions, analyze them, and form expectations. It's just what we do. Scenario A has often been followed by scenario B, so one's mind may begin to think that scenario B should follow, or will follow, scenario A. For some of us, or maybe for all of us at different times in our lives, forming these expectations is satisfying, it is comforting.
We feel that we are in control, that we know things, and that feels good, doesn't it? What we fail to recognize in doing so, is that we are not in control. We are in a constant state of chaos. The number of variable next events that could at any time take place, in any of our existences, is too vast for our minds to comprehend. Consider the butterfly effect - if we are all doing things, each of us are changing the world in every single instant. We all live in this one world, simultaneously changing it by existing, at all times.
So the idea that we can truly predict or expect things, on a very deep and basic level, is not an idea that I can really come to terms with. Despite this, we do seem to do it, and at times we are correct. It's interesting that some of us go and learn the concepts of probability in school, when in reality it's an innate part of each of our subconscious minds. I am, however, getting side-tracked here.
I spent most of what has so far been my life, carrying around a giant load of expectations. Some I took on from others, and some I came up with all on my own. Years and years, expecting one thing after another of myself, of my life, even of how I was to feel about all of the above. I had expectations. And having them hurt.
My life experiences did not always play out exactly as I expected they should, nor as I expected that others expected that they should. And when they did, I didn't feel the way I thought I was supposed to feel about my so-called successes. I was caught in what nearly became a deadly loop for me. Trying too hard, or not enough, or setting myself too free (this one... this one I was really good at). For each of the aforementioned, I judged myself deeply and harshly. When I tried too hard and failed, I was a failure. Not enough, wasn't enough. And that wild freedom I knew and loved so deeply, wasn't supposed to be an acceptable way of life.
In the end, the one that weighed on me the heaviest was "having it all". It was when I was succeeding at what was expected of me. "Yay! I did the thing! Look at me!" [insert people I love cheering me on] I should have been happy... right? No. Not for me. As I said, deadly. Into deep depression, and serious alcohol abuse, I dove. That's right, I dove, I did not fall. And to make that very long story very short, it was the biggest awakening I've ever had: letting go.
An apt heading, with the alcohol abuse in mind, but it means so much more than that.
I recovered from the weight of expectation. From hanging on to future outcomes by my fingernails. From clinging to a past and any feelings of shame over how the chaos had played out in my existence. I abandoned a lot of well-worn neurological paths, began to carve out some new ones, and even unearthed some old ones. Old childhood paths that I was happy to wander, simply to see whatever happens in this weird new life and accept it as what is.
For the first time in my life since pre-adulthood, I felt free and happy. I didn't know what was next. I knew that the way in which I had navigated the chaos so far was not going to be perceived well by most of the world, and I was ok with that. Not only ok - I was content and at peace. Content not having control, content not knowing what is next, content with knowledge of an imperfect past, and content with the idea that both my present and future would also be very far from perfect.
Not a Conclusion
Now the reason I titled this post faith is because this is I suppose the closest thing I have to faith. I'm not even totally sure I grasp what faith is to be honest. Maybe it's better said that I am pretty sure that my version of faith is different than that of most others. It is steeped in ideas, and does not require belief.
These ideas that I have - contentment with chaos, familiarity and appreciation of the unknown - are not that far off from what I imagine is believed by those who practice religious faith. The belief that there exists a god or deity, or higher power, watching over all things and taking responsibility for the chaos. In a way I am almost envious of those who were able to give up control and expectations earlier in life in this way. Envy, however, does not sit well with me, nor does belief in someone "up above" who is responsible for all things.
In my mind nobody has to be responsible for the chaos, and I do not feel the need to convince myself that there is an elusive purpose behind our lives. Existence just is. And I am really, really ok with that.
So, friends, I ask: do expectations crush or comfort you? Do you feel faith, lost, or something different? I'm genuinely curious, and always eager to hear takes from other minds.