A pastor friend and I have an ongoing debate: are expectations worth having? It seems to me that a lot of the anger and sadness in this life results from unfulfilled expectations. We expect food to be good, people to be fair, preaching to be profound. When it doesn’t happen, our reactions range from disappointment to rage to grief.

IMG_0695Of course there are two kinds of expectations: good and bad. If you expect something bad to happen, and it turns out to be better than you expected, then you feel really good, right? So if you expect problems, or poor quality, or bad people, and you get what you expected, you are better prepared. You can deal with the badness, both strategically and emotionally.

So, I have argued, we should only have bad expectations – or none at all. That way we can only be pleasantly surprised or well-prepared – or neutral.

My friend counters with this idea: that people with only bad expectations are grumpy and no fun to be around. I’m working on that. In the meantime, it’s been interesting to compare expectations with reality so far on this trip. 

Expectation: “Real” Croatian food may not be to our liking, but it will at least be interesting.
Reality: Some of it is both interesting and delicious (lamb cooked under a bell) and some is bland and dull (the fish we ate last night). 

Expectation: Things are more expensive in the touristy area than in the non-touristy area.
Reality: This one turns out to be true.

Expectation: Our landlord will show up at the time we promised to be here. 
Reality: He made us stand outside (in the muggy heat!) for nearly an hour. I was steamed in more ways than one.

Expectation: Our room will be be terrible. This was Mom’s expectation. Here’s why: It turned out that we weren’t even staying at the place he sent us directions to. We had to walk to another place, not far away. As we walked by the ancient, ugly buildings my mom got pretty nervous. She wondered what kind of hovel I had reserved for us. We stopped and entered this ancient, ugly door. 
Reality: To our great surprise (and pleasure) the place is beautiful and very comfortable – with one exception.

Expectation: Air conditioners will keep the room cool.
Reality: Not even close. This has been false in both Dubrovnik and Split. It’s made it hard to sleep nights. I think we Americans like our rooms to be cooler than Europeans do, because both of our rooms have been wonderful, other than being too hot.

Expectation: It would be great to hear some Klapa music while we’re here. 
Reality: It was better than expected. They were awesome. I bought a CD. Klapa is an old tradition in Croatia. It’s a cappella (no instruments) sung by men, in four parts (I think). Not complex, but rich in harmony and expression. They sing slowly, with great precision – nobody dances to Klapa music. But everybody likes it. (I was able to upload a video of them! Check it out. It’s attached to the next blog post.)

All right – what do you think? Is it better to have expectations or not?

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