Practicing Non-attachment Through Fluid Expectations


By: Danielle Wilson

I looked up and the trees seemed to be more alive than ever. Trudging through the cold, wet June air, I was reminded of the joy, the abundance brought on by Mother Nature’s rain. Embraced from above by a canopy of green, I gazed upon her lush extremities as she playfully dropped a pellet of rain, right atop my nose. With an outward giggle and an easy sigh, I remembered: today is going to be a really good day.

Danielle Wilson

Chicago’s current cold weather dilemma serves as a great conduit to create dialogue around mindful nonattachment. As warriors of the winter, us Midwesterners tend to set high expectations of our three precious summer months. With dreams of the sun blazing down on us, humid air coaxing our skin into surrender, and an endless list of outside activities to embark upon, it’s easy to allow the excitement of summer to transmute into a concrete expectation of what our reality will and should be. Although, creating expectations of ourselves and the world around us can serve as a healthy practice which promotes growth, it is our attachment to these expectations that catalyzes an unnecessary suffering of our own making.

I’ve spent the past few weeks watching yogi’s walk in and out of the studio, listening to friends in conversation, and catching the words of strangers passing by—all expressing their discontent with this cold, wet summer we’re facing. I, too, have had my fair share of resentfully putting on a sweater, or frustratingly opening my umbrella. Of course, I want to bathe in the sun and meander in my flip flops—and you know what, we actually have been graced with some beautiful, warm days this month, providing those free, summer livin’ feels—but wanting so badly for something that just isn’t our most current reality is choosing to actively neglect presence, and sacrifice the life there is to live outside of our narrowminded narrative. Holding a tight grip on expectations boxes us into a thin funnel in the vast river of life’s possibilities. 

I woke up this morning in a pretty neutral mood. I wasn’t completely bummed about the fall like temps or the spring time rain, but I definitely wasn’t in a space to see any beauty in it. I drove to West Loop, found a parking spot ways away from my destination, and started on my walk—arms crossed in a subconscious defense of the cold and eyes low to match the somber grey of the day. I’m not sure how exactly, but at some point, my gaze was drawn upwards by the bright, bold, green of trees lining the sidewalk. I noticed as, immediately, the thought, “the trees seem so alive this morning,” crossed my mind. It was true. They’ve been blessed with so much rain lately, leaving them full, and fat, and happy! A smile came to my eyes, and then my mouth, as I realized this was the moment in my day when I could choose to see the greatness, the opportunity, the joy available to me. If I loosened my expectations of “the perfect summer day,” then any day could rise to the occasion and serve my highest good. 

This concept bleeds into all areas of our lives. We have a tendency to arrest ourselves to anchored expectations of life, love, career, family, everything! And when the happenings of the Universe don’t pan out in fulfillment of the expectations we invested so much of our time, energy, and thought into, we end up hurt, disappointed, angry, ashamed—the list goes on. Imagine the joy we would manifest if our time was utilized in remaining wholly present rather than planning, plotting, and imprisoning our next slew of expectations. Further than that, imagine the emotional energy we’d save and the exciting new experiences we’d gain from simply remaining open to life being exactly what it is!

This concept of practicing nonattachment with expectations came to me years ago. It proved to be such a valuable thought, I wrote a note for myself: “release yourself of set expectations,” put it next to my bed, and looked at it every morning and night. The amount of suffering I’ve reduced in my life, and the amplified amount of joy I’ve accumulated has been so worth the effort of allowing life to be what it is and embracing it, loving it even, for just that. 

I invite you to ponder the expectations you’ve held yourself hostage to, lately. Choose one, maybe two even, and for this week, alone, live free of its shackles. Watch the growth that happens within you, your life, and your relationships when you tear down the ceiling of set expectations hovering above. Feel excited for all of the new experiences, ideas, and perspectives you’ll absorb with your fluid mindset. Escape from the suffocating funnel of attached expectations and choose to float along the current of life’s river. I swear to you, the ride is well worth the release!

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