My journey re-reading the classic literature of my youth (so far.)
1. Dracula by Bram Stoker
2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
3. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
I finished the last one recently and gave it a hearty two thumbs up. I know…it’s already a classic and doesn’t need my approval. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking Leo Tolstoys ‘War and Peace’ was a snooze fest. Sixty hours of listening! Dracula was quite satisfying in comparison.
But the title of Dicken’s masterpiece left me wondering about my own expectations. I live in a comfortable world. I don’t spend 14 hours a day working a blacksmith’s forge and praying my luck will turn. I like to recognize that fact with ongoing thankfulness, some spoken aloud and some just repeated inside my head. ‘Thanks for my bed, my warm house. The food in my fridge and cupboard. Thanks for friends and family. Thank you God…(not sure how to be thankful without naming names) for my life. An attitude of gratitude sustains me during those times when all I want to do is roll up in a ball and feel sorry for myself. I don’t think it’s possible to be human and not have those moments of deep self pity. But joy never appears when I’m wallowing.
And every now and then, I get to rejoice over an unexpected gift. Like earlier this summer,when I picked up the Sharper Image Wave Oven for a mere $10 in a local thrift store. I didn’t know what it was, but I thought, “It’s ten bucks. Can’t lose.” Turns out, it works like a barbeque, deep fryer and regular oven. Curious about the price, I looked for it on Amazon, and there it was. Two months ago it was over $700 but the price has gone down to $400. You can get other brands much cheaper.
It is fantastic. In fact, every friend and relative reading this will say, “Dear God, no. She’s talking about her wave oven again.” I couldn’t shut up about it. When I was leaving my hair dresser’s a couple weeks ago, I ran into three little girls who’d purchased items at a second hand children’s store. “I got an easy bake oven!’ the youngest one said to me. “Oh yeah?” I replied. And then I told them my whole story. They were very impressed. Ironically, my wave oven works with a lightbulb. It’s an easy bake for grownups.
The title, ‘Great Expectations’ should be applied judiciously to one’s circumstances. Do I expect to win the lottery? No. But then, I never buy lottery tickets. Do I still expect good things to happen to me? Yes. I never want to low ball my own life. It’s important to recognize how the small things add up into something big. Things worth being grateful for. Play a great golf game? Feel free to bust a move on the putting green. Get your garden in on time without losing your tomatoes to frost? Brag about it on Facebook. We’ll all be happy for you.
When something unexpected comes into your life (it doesn’t have to be the Wave Oven, but man, that felt good) then shout your thanks to the universe. We can solve a lot of problems of the heart, mind and soul when we feel thankful. As Charles Dicken’s Pip discovered, being able to recognize all the love we’ve given and received might be the best gift of all. The target I’m working toward is the report card I’ll receive at the end of my life when I’m standing before the pearly gates. I know I’ve got many faults. I haven’t always shown love the way I should and I’m often impatient. But in spite of that, I really hope my Maker checks off Exceeds Expectations. That would be great indeed.