“Expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.” — Alice Walker
It may seem contradictory for a self-proclaimed optimist to quote Walker’s counsel to expect nothing, but there is very real difference between expectation and optimism. Admittedly, optimism involves some expectation, but it is mostly of a general sort. We expect that joy lies ahead if we are willing to cooperate by actively seeking for good. We expect that our faith will eventually be proven as well-founded. Beyond that, though, it’s a bit fuzzy.
If we expect a new car, a palatial home or always a little bit more than we currently have, optimism is crowded out by a feeling of entitlement. If we give our love with expectation of commensurate return, that’s a risky proposition at best. If we serve with the expectation of gratitude, our service will be more likely to taint our relationships with selfishness.
I’ve found that the most delightful gifts are those that are wholly unexpected. The snapdragons pictured above have become one of my favorite plants, primarily because they have come back again every year without my expecting it. When I bought that particular plant years ago, I was told it was an annual. I planted one or two six packs of tiny seedlings and figured I would enjoy them for a year at most.
The next year, two of them came back, a yellow one and this pink one. The yellow plant has barely hung on, flowering sparsely in recent years, but the pink one gets bigger, blooms earlier and lasts longer each year. Every year they come back, I count it an unexpected gift. There’s no more frugal surprise than a volunteer plant that returns to decorate our lives without added expense or effort.
Living frugally is its own reward, and as Walker affirms in her lovely poem linked above, the frugal life is full of charming surprises.