Expectations and Going on your Nerve

Is hope a form of expectation?

My expectations have often led to suffering. Whether the next new country or relationship. Or planning a lesson for a spectacular class only to have it fail miserably. And then the letting go. Almost tricking myself into believing I don’t really care and then WHAM! A surprisingly great class. An amazing time out and about. An interesting time in a foreign country wandering around.

This letting go is also a kind of opening.  An expansive mind. An expansive writing practice.

This, for me, can come from meditation, and also reading poetry, but mostly a certain kind, like Frank O’Hara. And other NY School poets. But also others.

There seems to be various ways of letting go. Letting go in a skilful way. Not indifference or apathy but less clinging again. less clinging to the hoped for result.

So maybe it is not the hope. How can we live and enjoy life without some form of hope? Or maybe that needs further exploring. What hope even means.

But I do know I suffer when I cling to an expected result.

This also jives with why I write and read poetry.

The process. The path. The journey.


If we don’t have some notion of a pattern. Some notion of what to expect based on previous experiences we can’t really make choices right? So it can’t be all in process. All goalless.

I am sure many people experience that feeling of effortless effort. Being in the zone. That is one of my favourite feelings while writing. Not struggling. I guess part of that entails also letting go of perfection. But it also takes practice. That worn out example of a jazz riff. Or today’s DJ mixing/meshing on the spot. Some say 10 years of steady practice before improv or going on your nerve can lead to this effortless effort. Or maybe longer.

It seems it would take a lifetime or lifetimes to get to that point in all things.

Somehow I often get stuck between clinging and caring too much (what other people think of me as a person or a poet or a teacher etc.) and pretending I don’t care in order to let go. Social anxiety usually comes with anticipating the event. Once I am in the event I rarely experience much social anxiety. Or getting used to the space and the people lessens that of course.

That pretending I don’t care is never really not caring. I think I always do care. It is a trick.

For some maybe it is the pose of the hipster. A response to our saturation of emotions in the media. An attempt to reclaim authenticity through irony?

Now I am working more on watching my mind. It is damn hard. Damn hard sometimes. But when that effortless effort kicks in (with writing poetry or plays or just walking around in crowded central London or teaching) it is incredible.

I am letting go of false notions of originality as well. All the world’s language is my language. All the poems ever written are my poems. And yours. To remake and reframe and reclaim.

Mesh it!!


frank o'hara.jpg






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