A birthday lesson on letting go of expectations

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men / Gang aft agley

(The best-laid plans of mice and men / Go oft awry)

– Robert Burns
Today is my 58th birthday, the one that matches my birth year of 1958.
And for the first time since I was 17, I’m in the Coastal Empire on my birthday, specifically, in Savannah.
I woke this morning just a block away from where I was born. Back then, the building was Candler Hospital. Now it’s the Savannah Law School.
I came into this world upside down. Yes, breech. My birth was hard on my mother. I assume it was hard on me, too.
But here I am, 58 years later, looking forward to a birthday celebration back in the city where I began.
In that last sentence, though, I reveal my misunderstanding about today. My wrong assumption about this birthday.
Today, here in Savannah, I had expectations.
After 58 years, you’d think I know better than to have expectations!
Expectations set me up for disappointment.
Expectations mean I don’t trust the flow of life.
Expectations close off my potential for magic.
But that’s just what I did today.
I expected something, something specific.
One of my celebration expectations was that I’d have a Back in the Day Bakery cupcake (or two) on my birthday.
You see, Back in the Day makes my very favorite cupcakes. Of any I’ve had anywhere.
I even called early this morning to place an order – to be sure they have cupcakes for me today, on my birthday.
The girl who answered the phone said they’d only have the “old-fashioned” ones. That means vanilla cake with white icing. I was hoping for chocolate or red velvet, but hey, I love their old-fashioned cupcakes, too. I’d be very happy with those. She said that I didn’t need to order them, that they’d have plenty if I came around lunchtime.
I arrived at the bakery around 1.
I didn’t see any cupcakes in the display case. Hmmmmm . . .  maybe they had some in the back . . . .
When I got to the counter, I asked about cupcakes.
You can probably already guess the response.
“We don’t have any cupcakes today.”
I was so disappointed!img_9596
I was expecting something similar to these Christmas cupcakes that I got last year.
It turned out that they hadn’t had any cupcakes all day – and wouldn’t have any tomorrow, either! Whoever answered the phone when I called this morning was very misinformed.
I was frustrated! I wanted cupcakes on my birthday! I expected Back in the Day cupcakes on my birthday!
I let this disappointment, this frustration, put a kink in my day.
Even though I knew I shouldn’t.
The birthday gift I was getting was another lesson in having no expectations.
A lesson I get again and again. And again.
And have received this lesson many, many times – almost innumerable times – during these 58 years.
But I still felt the frustration with not having my expectations met.
This time, though,  I let myself feel that frustration – and then I went on with my day.
I’m learning to let myself be human with human emotions . . . . but not to dwell on them too much.
So, ultimately, this birthday is turning out just fine.
I had a lovely dinner with friends tonight. I enjoyed their company. I enjoyed my meal. My sister even called the restaurant (from NH) to order a bottle of Prosecco for us – what a nice surprise!
And I had cake for dessert! (Almost a cupcake).
I didn’t go to dinner with expectations.. I knew it would all be fine, however it turned out.
And it did. Even better than if I’d had expectations.
Even though I’ve been making cycles around the sun for 58 years, I know life will keep offering me lessons.
And I will keep trying to learn them.
Lesson #1: Sometimes there are no cupcakes.
Lesson #2: But there might be cake! And Prosecco.

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