Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster I was about eight. My parents had friends with teenage daughters that we visited often. I found the book in their room, made myself at home and opened it up. Honestly, all the backward words confused me, but I liked the idea of a land beyond the tollbooth... and the fact that Milo (the main character) was able to drive.
Like so many other great children's books (The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, etc) The Phantom Tollbooth can be read on several different levels. When I picked it up last week I was planning on gifting it to Joe (DS), but then I took a peek and was immediately sucked in.
The hook? Upon embarking on his journey, Milo bumps into a little man - the Whether Man - who points the way to "Expectations." What? "Why, Expectations is the place you must always go to before you get to where you're going. Of course, some people never go beyond Expectations..."
I can't stop pondering his words. They roll around in my brain. What are my expectations for this little life of mine? And if I haven't defined my expectations, is it possible to move forward? Does expectation fuel the drive? What happens when expectations don't measure up? Or fall flat all together?
Now, reverse that: what if where get to exceeds Expectations. The roast is tender and delicious, the date went well, the raise was earned. Does it make you happier? By lowering expectations are we creating opportunities for success?
Reverse that (again): high expectations may result in defeat but do they push you beyond where you would have gone with lower expectations?
But I think the Whether Man is saying that the expectations we impose on ourselves can drive (quite literally, in Milo's case) us forward and perhaps take us to lands we never knew existed. The words have convinced me to raise mine - expect the universe - see how far I get. Watch me fly beyond Expectations.