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Great expectations

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Having expectations is natural, I suppose, but sometimes lead to heartache. As with most things, there are “two sides to every coin,” and while expectations are a good thing when setting goals, it’s “attachment” to the plan that is often my downfall. It’s taken many years for me to grasp this concept, and I’m still learning. During my on-again/off-again study of Buddhist principle (www.kadampanewyork.org), the subject has come up on more than one occasion, but putting it into practice is where the challenge arises. “That’s why it’s called ‘practice,’” my teachers would say, and so I continue to strive.

“Practice what you preach,” the dog reminded me as we headed out the door last Friday to attend a Veterans’ Day Memorial service in Kauneonga Lake. Although the sun was shining brightly, there was a chill in the air, and while I expected a good turnout for the service, I also had plans to go fishing later that same morning, since the day coincided with an official “free fishing day”—one of several that were set aside by Gov. Andrew Cuomo back in 2014 (www.governor.ny.gov).

The memorial service was well attended (as expected) and thoughtfully presented with some lovely words, prayers and sentiments expressed. “This day is so important,” Town of Bethel Supervisor Daniel Sturm said as the service began, “because it’s the one day of the year that honors everyone who has served.” U.S. Navy Master Chief Joe Collura spoke eloquently and his keynote speech was both humorous and deeply touching. “For many of us, Veterans Day is really ‘survivors’ Day,” he shared, acknowledging the men and women who stood with him as the American flag waved in the breeze above their heads. As the service drew to a close, I noticed that the dog was shivering and my plans to go fishing wavered. “It’s not supposed to be punishing,” I mentioned to my pals. “I’m unhappy,” I continued, “because I had attachment to the plan.” Oopsie.

“Your expectation, you set too high” Master Yoda (www.starwars.com) once said. Peripherally aware that Yoda and his teachings are based on Buddhist principle, I wasn’t surprised that his voice rang in my head, but “disappointed I was” and decided not to go fishin’, setting the plan aside for another day. While selecting an appropriate tie to knot for the third annual Boys and Girls Club’s “Grown Here-Farm-to-Table Experience,” I realized that having high expectations for fundraisers is a good thing, and dollars raised at events like this benefit clubs in both Orange and Sullivan counties, including Fallsburg, Liberty and Monticello. Each of the delicious four courses was prepared by a chef from a local eatery and paired with a fine wine (also locally sourced), many of which were also auctioned off to the highest bidder by auctioneer Dr. David Ainbinder, who (as expected) did an amazing job. The River Reporter is proud to be a corporate sponsor of the B&G Clubs, and I was happy to be there representing TRR.

Admittedly, I took advantage of the opportunity to explain why I looked so “scruffy” as the club’s executive director Lori Rivenburgh so kindly put it, and informed the crowd that I’m fundraising myself, in the form of “No-Shave November” and still accepting donations throughout the month (www.no-shave.org/member/Jonathan1954) on behalf of those less fortunate than myself. It’s itching like crazy, and I’m looking a bit too much like Santa, but (as the evening reminded me) it’s all for the greater good. Scanning the moonlit sky as we headed out the door, I was also reminded that I was expecting to be amazed by the upcoming supermoon that had been highly touted on the Internet (www.earthsky.org) promising that “the brightest moon in almost 69 years will be lighting up the sky this week in a treat for stargazers around the world.”

I got out my tripod, selected an appropriate sweater for the dog and schlepped out the next night, expecting to be blown away. “Viewers can expect to see a moon appearing 14% larger in diameter and 30% brighter,” the website claimed, “and it won’t appear this bright again for another 18 years.”

“Uh oh,” I thought. “I could be dead by then. Better get out there and photograph this incredible celestial event.” Seeking a good vantage point, I drove a short distance from home and waited. Sure enough, the moon rose, but my expectations fell flat as it lit up the sky. Sure, it was big and it absolutely was bright, but super? Not so much. I headed out to a different location, thinking it was time and place, but still, I was disappointed. Shaking my fist at the beautiful, glorious full moon, I silently cursed Yoda and his sage advice. “If you have much expectation,” the Dalai Lama once said, “you may come away disappointed.” Ain’t that the truth. IMHO.

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