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Archive for August, 2010

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She grabbed an ear from the stack, pulled away the husk to peek inside, and tossed it back onto the pile in disgust. The next one, deemed equally offensive, met the same harsh fate. As she glared at the kernels of a third ear with hard-edged rejection, she glanced sidelong at me–happily filling my bag with plump, gold-tasseled ears–and asked ‘Is this corn yellow?’ I paused in my own inspection and smiled at her. ‘No,’ I replied; ‘the sign says it’s bicolor.’

She stared again at the glistening kernels she’d unmasked, shook her head almost imperceptibly, and stuffed the ear into her bag. As I turned in search of apples, I noted her earlier discards now nestled snugly in the bag as well, with another soon to join them. I heard a faint, contented hum as she pulled, peeked, and stuffed away.

So…..what had changed here, exactly? Had the corn somehow been magically transformed from unworthy to desirable with the utterance of one simple word? Or had she been changed instead? Perhaps it’s a case of expectations.

Every day, in every encounter, we meet the world with expectations, whether explicit or implicit. They could be things we want someone to say or do, things we demand of ourselves, things we want to happen, or things we expect to find in a given location. If those expectations aren’t met, we are disappointed, frustrated, sad, or angry. When they’re satisfied, then so, for the most part, are we. Evidently my neighbor in the produce aisle expected yellow corn; finding white kernels admixed with the ‘normal’ ones, she considered all the ears deficient. Once the word ‘bicolor’ informed her that the white ones were there by design rather than by defect, her expectations shifted and the corn was suddenly acceptable.

Sometimes, it turns out, just the smallest shift in expectations means the difference between disappointment and delight.

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