The other day a friend told me about her "New Me." She said that one of her new features was that she'd been consciously cutting back on her expectations about things, just wake up each day, look around, and start dealing with whatever came along, good or bad, soaking up the moments. Somehow, in the end, this approach made her feel better than sometimes expecting too much, or expecting the wrong things.

It's easy to see how "not having expectations" might lead to fewer disappointments and frustrations. However, I read that Sam Walton, of WalMart fame, says, "High expectations are the key to everything," while actor Michael Landon says, "Expectations in your life just lead to giant disappointments," so maybe this is something to think about

I personally do expect natural things to behave in certain ways, but maybe more than most others, like my friend, I avoid forming expectations about things originating from human thought. Over millions of years ,Nature's evolutionary process has weeded out what wasn't consistently sustainable, but human thought -- except among honest scientists -- undergoes no such perfecting process. People can and do constantly reinvent the same hurtful ideas that have plagued humanity for thousands, sometimes millions of years.

Still, most people today spend most to all their time enmeshed in systems designed not by Nature but rather by erratic human mentality -- in cities, organizations, living according to this or that religion, philosophy or economic system, trying to be "good" according to someone's thought-up, maybe harebrained standard other than Nature's gold standard of "sustainability." It seems that most people "expect" to do better in such systems, than they might by living simply, close to Nature.

Another perspective on "expectations"is offered by the Six Miracles of Nature often spoken of here, and outlined at http://www.backyardnature.net/j/6/ It indicates that the Universe evolves toward ever higher, ever more sophisticated states of mentality. So, by distrusting human mentality, are my friend and I saying that we don't trust exactly the thing the Universe can be expected to keep evolving toward?

At this point in my thinking about "expectations," a letter from my friend Jarvis in North Carolina drifted in, commenting on a program he'd watched about the question of why so far we haven't found evidence of life elsewhere in the Universe. "The narrator of the program considered the possibility that advanced civilizations created by intelligent life forms might quickly disappear so that, at any given moment in time, there would be very few in the whole galaxy," Jarvis wrote.

A certain unsettling scenario suggests itself: Intelligent lifeforms, once they reach a certain threshold of mentality, may automatically destroy themselves. Events of our time show us possible ways humans might do that here on Earth. Maybe it's a law of Nature that any life form in the Universe that is so aggressive and so insensitive to the welfare of other creatures that it achieves absolute dominance over its own biosphere, will be programmed to behave in ways that inevitably lead to its own extinction.

Whatever the deal is, I'm clear that on the Earth, right now, like my friend, I do better in the long run when I don't form expectations for people or their institutions, even as every day I hungrily indulge in the expectations that the Sun will rise to shine exactly where and when it should, the ocean's tides will behave just as they're predicted to, and that in their seasons birds will sing, butterflies flit, plants flower, and snails will leave silvery trails across dark, mossy rocks in hidden, lovely places.