• Mike

More in Hope than Expectation

‘You should not expect too much of yourself during the lockdown’. That was the advice given by a doctor who I watched on a video nearly a year ago at the beginning of the pandemic. ‘Do not expect to be as productive as you would be in normal times’. At the same time he was recommending that we maintain a routine and not allow our days to slide from one activity to another. He emphasised the importance of living daily in the hope that things will improve.

This may all be good advice but it is not straightforward. Hope and expectation may anticipate the same end but they nevertheless live in tension with each other.

I hope that when next week Donald Trump leaves office next Wednesday we can all sleep a little more easily in our beds knowing that we will not wake up to some new tweeted outrage or reckless decision. I expect that to be the case because I believe that most Americans have gone to the edge, looked over and pulled back.

I hope that we can look forward to a year when the virus will become less of a threat to our lives and to our whole way of being. The various vaccines now coming on-stream encourage me to think that. However the new variants emerging which may be more resistant to the vaccines pose a real threat. As do the anti-vaxxers. They believe variously that there is a conspiracy to manipulate our DNA to make us compliant, that the research methods depend on the unethical use of foetal material, that we should not tamper with blood, that there has been insufficient research in the admittedly speedy process of development. If a large minority shares such views it lowers my expectations that we shall be out of the woods by Easter or the summer or next Christmas.

I hope that Brexit will be smoother than I have anticipated, that fresh foods will be able to travel fairly easily, that we will be able to travel to Europe if we wish, that all the exchanges in culture, science, security will continue. Early indications have reduced my expectations here.

I hope that we shall be able to go on holiday later this year and walk by the sea again. But we have not booked and are not counting on it. I hope that we shall be able to see our granddaughter in Scotland. Her third year is racing past and we are missing out on precious unrepeatable moments as are many grandparents. I expect to see our two grandchildren who live closer as they seem to change a little every day.

Hopes and expectations live in a delicate balance. They live in tension. Hope creates momentum in our lives. It creates a reality in our minds into which we hope slowly to live. Expectations take full account of the obstacles in the way of our hopes.

So don’t’ expect too much of yourself during the weeks ahead. And don’t expect too much of others. They will be more aware of their failings than we are. But keep hope alive. Not that we shall return to life as we knew it before Covid. But that we shall have learned enough lessons during this crisis that we shall live a little better together than we once did.

I hope that is the case. And my expectations are feeding on my hope. I will keep hope alive.

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