Act Without Expectations

It’s interesting how our attachments to people grow over time. I remember the first few times I hung out with Claire. I was enjoying my time with her, without expectations of the future, without preconceived notions, and I felt completely detached – in love and in harmony with the experience – but not attached to it. I remember thinking, “I could say goodbye to her tomorrow (if I needed to) and be completely content.” Loving her completely in that moment is enough.

When one lives spontaneously, acting without expectation, each moment burns itself completely in the present moment – like a good bon fire, leaving no residue. It is funny, then, that as our position in time moves away from these enjoyable events, we begin to think about them, crystallizing the past into memory, taking it out of the context of the moment. Without even noticing immediately, we begin to get some feelings of attachment in us.

Anything that we grow to like we want more of. Every time we have a great time with someone today we want to see them again tomorrow, and inevitably we want to hold on to these positive experiences as long as we can. When we do this, though, it is almost as if we create some residue in our present life. We want to recreate the experience through new experiences with the same conditions. We want to be with this person again, to share and to love. We want to be human, in some manor of speaking. These feelings are quite natural.

So how do we let go of the past and burn ever-new fires, always content with the wood and conditions at hand? How do we forget and still remember the past? How do we love in the present without becoming attached to the future?

I still don’t have an answer. But when I asked myself this, the only thought that came to my mind was two lines from the Tao Te Ching:

Act without expectations.

Know the tools but keep to the block.”

Summer 2006


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