Journal Dispatches: October 6, 2021. Expectation, Detroit’s Eastern Market & The Stranger

Source. Pexels. B&W version. Jill Burrows, Photographer

Expectation: Woes come and go. Some hang around longer than needed. My mother’s ancestors (two brothers) fought in the American Revolution and had to get inoculated against smallpox under the orders of General Washington, that is, if they wished to remain part of the army. One of the brothers kept a diary – “Killing another man is not romantic. Neither is suffering regardless of the cause.” His diary was compassionate, gripping, insightful about the nature of suffering with a taste of dark humor and the misdirection of expectation. Some of his neighbors walked off the battlefield and vanished in the night. It was expected to happen. War brings out passions that are hard to quell. 

 From my philosophical libertine perspective and experiences suffering causes me to question the words“value of expectation”.  Any form of suffering is not necessarily a measure of heroics. Causes have their limits. And any pursuit with expectation is bounded by an individual and global reality. Death answers one of the values. It’s best to live fully in the moment. I am the descendant of man who walked outside naked and laid on the ground and emphatically stated, “it’s a good day to die,” according to a neighbor who didn’t believe him. My eccentric ancestor then died within the hour. He was a few months short of one hundred years of age. It sounded familiar. It was a cold day under clear blue skies. He was weary. His will to die was stronger than his will to live another day.

The fact is I do best when I have no expectation. 

Anticipating something is like the day you follow all the rules, but halfway through a street intersection the traffic signal changes from green to red and by-passes yellow. And you receive a traffic violation in the mail from big brother under the rubric of the State and the speed trap. You realize the State wants more money.  Very little to do with personal responsibility. Why not just design a roundabout and let people be responsible? The answer: follow the money. My wealthy friend commiserates with his colleagues about their financial state in private with their lawyers and advisors. I asked him why should the necessities of life be taxed, like food and clothing, when he pays nothing? Expectation? 

Detroit’s Eastern Market & The Stranger: My travel in recent years is mostly by car. While in Michigan I visited the Eastern Market area in Detroit to purchase some fresh produce. The market for produce is primarily wall-less in an area that has undergone significant change over the years. My stopping there seemed simple enough. While looking at some produce and flowers I saw a woman nearby delicately fondling some fruit with one hand while setting a flower down with the other. She looked vaguely familiar, wearing a black dress and high heels. Perhaps she was on her way home and decided to stop at the market. She looked over at me and smiled. I smiled in return. She asked me if I visited the market often. I told her it’s been a long time between visits.  

Our conversation lasted about ten minutes or so when she asked, “How long will you be visiting LJ? “ 

“Probably about…how did you know my initials?”

“What did you expect?”

“Expect? Have we met before?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Well then?”

“Well then what?”

“Who are you?”

“Somebody you met just now.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Perhaps that acknowledgement is the beginning of wisdom.”  

“Sounds ancient.”

She grinned, purchased a small bag of fruit, picked up the flower, said “Αντίο” to the merchant and started to walk away, stopped, turned around, and looked at me and said, “It was my pleasure. Don’t be a stranger.”

I nodded.

The merchant selling the fruit told me the woman perhaps heard me talking to another person at the adjacent produce stand about my journal. She must have looked it up on her phone and added, “then again, who knows for certain?”

I bought some produce and headed to my car. Upon driving away and on to the expressway I turned on the radio to catch a narrator ask, “What are your expectations founded on?”

I switched channels to a classical music station.