You Cannot Expect the Unexpected…

Erin Schaden
5 min readMay 17, 2024

I have tried. Repeatedly.

I also try to pre-feel things…that is also not really possible though I continue to give that a go…daily.

This whole trip has been unexpected. Everything about it. How I have been, how I have felt, how it has unfolded, the amount of time I have spent alone and not lonely. Life has this amazing way of showing you things you didn’t know you needed to know, and often, the price of that revelation is pain.

As a lifelong control freak, I have tried with every ounce of energy and force of will to be able to think through every possible scenario. Every fucking one of them. So that nothing unexpected happens in my life. I did this, in large part, to avoid the pain and suffering that comes with being blindsided. Sometimes I think, you are dealt a blow, early in life and that causes you to reorient yourself to life and its fucking shenanigans. Causing you to always be on the look out for trouble and attempt, to resolve and solve it before it even darkens your door. This is most especially true if the fuckening happens when you are a naive, unsuspecting child.

For me, life has been this constant vigil, this hypervigilant arousal state where I am constantly thinking and watching and observing, to notice whenever any small thing happens so that I will not ever be blindsided again. To remain on consistent and terminal watch so that when the shit hits the fan, I have long ago left that particular fucking building.

What it took me years to realize was that no matter how much you dedicate your life to disaster preparedness and planning, life is going to still blindside you. Life is going to bring events, people, heartbreak, love, and everything in between and catch you off guard. It is just the way life unfolds. And for a long time I existed in this raging war against this most basic fact of our existence…and I suffered greatly because of it.

And in review, I can see that I missed a lot of joy along the way because I was too busy making sure the sky would not fall down, instead of working to shore myself up internally so that when the sky fell, I would have the things I needed to make it through, not without pain and loss and sorrow but relatively in tact.

I realize now how much joy I missed because I was so consumed with disaster planning. How much of my life I missed because I was too worried about what might happen. I missed so many moments, so many events in my life because I could not stay present in the moment, as I was up in my head attempting to solve problems that weren’t even here yet…but they might be so I had better get fucking busy!

I head home today from this most amazing, wonderful, painful, heartrending, magical, life affirming odyssey. It has been a pilgrimage for me. Not to religious sites or even on some spiritual quest necessarily, but instead a journey inward. Allowing the ever changing, magnificent landscape to rearrange me, to alter me inside, often by just removing all the busyness so that I could just sit with myself, for hours and hours, every single day for 10 days.

What I have learned is that most of the time my head is a pretty war free zone. But there are times, where it is marred with thoughts of lack of worth, fear of the uncertainty of life and my innate response to that is to attempt to control everything that is going on. Everything that is happening, that could possibly happen and may, eventually happen. I have learned, the hard way, control is my natural outgrowth and expression of trauma. So when I am controlling things that really are not mine to control, manage or do, I am having a current experience of a past experience that is no longer relevant to my contemporary life circumstances.

I cannot expect the unexpected. Neither can you. None of us can. It is impossible, yet we all move through this life, acting as if there is some different reality.

What I realized on this trip is that every morning when I wake, I am gifted with a fresh start on this whole living thing. I get to begin each day anew. Anything can happen. Anything at all. And my wishes, desires, needs and wants are only tangentially related. This day will bring whatever it is going to bring. And I can waste it away attempting to control my every thought, feeling, experience and moment. Or I can just throw myself into the day and do my level best to be present for what is happening, as it is happening. I cannot expect the unexpected, I surrender to this, I accept this. And I move into this new day, with the idea that each moment is its own reward, or curse, the choice is always there for me to choose one over the other.

And, probably most important of all, it is in the unexpected events, happenstance encounters that life alters the route, derails me in just the right way so that I may find myself more fully present in this life of mine. My lifelong quest to quell the unexpected shifts and turns, is perhaps exactly what has made my life so acutely painful. I mean, fuck, the pain is going to come anyway, the suffering is going to happen, because it is part of life, always. But perhaps, just maybe my reaction to the anticipation of the hurt is what hurts me more…

So today, and for all my days after, I am going to start my day with this:

I release control over the day…its people, places and things. I am not in charge of anything but my own self. I have a choice today about how I show up. Do I want to be the shrewish person who rails at every departure from what I want or demand? Or do I want to be the person who feels each moment as it comes, welcoming in whatever it is: a nasty surprise, or the unanticipated gift. The choice is always and forever mine. So today, I choose the openness of the present moment. The freedom from control and the need to know, the demand to know things that are not mine yet to know. I am just here, walking this path, and open to receiving it all — the blessings, the curses, everything.




Erin Schaden

Who am I? I am all that I write, all that I learn, share and grow. Read and find out? Check out for more.