Remember when Bugs Bunny would pant along in some endless desert until suddenly he perked up and grew ecstatic about a body of water in the distance? You knew what was coming. And I knew. Can’t fool us, can you?
That bountiful oasis turned out to be nothing more than a kicked up sandstorm bathed in wretchedly hot rays of sun.Poor Bugs.
Sometimes I feel like Bugs.
I get my mind (hear expectations) so fixed on something. I pant. I rub my hands in anticipation. I see it, sure as day. Sure as the sun in the sky. Sure as the sweat streaming down my face from all of my hard work. The water cometh.
Until it doesn’t.Until somewhere along the journey, my mud-caked heels cracking, my throat parched as the coughing earth itself, it hits me. It was an illusion. A mind game. Merely a figment of my imagination.
Just as an actual mirage is a naturally occurring phenomenon, so too are our expectations. It’s natural to instill hope in something. It’s natural to dream. It’s okay to want. Where the sand stings our eyes is when we begin to count on it. When our hope slides down that slippery slope transforming into expectation or entitlement if you will. Mirages become dangerous when we don’t have the full canteen of water to quench our thirst or the camel to carry us the rest of the miles.
Expectations appear precariously in our minds like mirages.Yet I’m also inclined to think our expectations can have an upside. They have the ability to serve as excellent motivators. If we reach the place where we swore we saw a pool of water and there is none, we know to keep moving. We adjust our vision and focus on what’s real—what’s in front of us this moment. We have the opportunity to become resourceful and resilient.
Take this gold nugget from Wikipedia: “A mirage is a real optical phenomenon which can be captured on camera, since light rays actually are refracted to form the false image at the observer's location. What the image appears to represent, however, is determined by the interpretive faculties of the human mind.”What’s the takeaway? I believe our expectations, these mirages that rise out of nowhere, can teach us. They communicate volumes to us about what we value, what we were hoping for, and how much energy we’re willing to exert. Our mental mirages give us a glimpse of what very well may be…further down the path.
What is a mirage really? It’s bending light. A foretaste. A reason to continue hoping, but also to keep moving.It’s only when we prematurely swallow our water supply, confident the light bending before us is about to fulfill our every need that we run into real trouble. We need to keep water on us at all times. We need to be mindful of the tricks our eyes are sensitive to believe. We need to not depend on the mirage to wipe away all of our needs.
I get it, Bugs. I’ve seen the bending light.And I’m walking on…
Ever been on that desert path and have what you think you see down the path turn out to be a mental mirage of expectations? Have you seen the bending light?
*photo by stock.XCHNG