I am a huge fan of new phases of life. Therefore, the commencement of a new year is a wonderful thing. I’m not into the resolution scene, but I do typically consider and write my goals for an oncoming year. There really is something profound about a new year beginning!
Or… at least that’s what I used to think. Maybe it is life experience and circumstances that direct my viewpoint on such things, which would make it quite logical for each annual passing to seem quite different. During the transition from year 2018 into year 2019, I noticed something that was not entirely shocking with further thought, but that I did not expect to be a descriptor for me in this particular instance.
It wasn’t the advent of an entirely new year that spun my wheels faster and put additional pep into my step. Maybe the idealization of what newness could offer me? It has become evident that the primary driver behind my excitement and hopeful forward vision was the anticipation of the idealization of the fresh, out-of-the-box, new-car-smell year. It is a bit of a conceptual inception, yes, but essentially what I’m saying is that I was really looking forward to looking forward to something.
I’m going to call this the ‘anticipation quotient.’
It is within human nature, I believe, to anticipate. To expect. To want and hope, and all such manner of future consideration. This is no earth-shattering revelation to anyone I am sure, but what I find striking is the event of that moment when the anticipated thing occurs. It is as if you had a front row seat to a meteor’s journey across the universe, heading directly toward an inhabited planet! There you are–sitting on a couch, mechanically and rapidly tossing bits of popcorn into your mouth, waiting for the precise moment of collision. You can see the trajectory, and the suspense and excitement of the coming moment enthrall you. Then as the meteor nears its inevitable target, in the exact moment that promised to be a surreal and wild impact, a black hole suddenly appears from nowhere and swallows the meteor! *fffffffffwwwwwaaaaahhhhp* The hole zips up and there is nothingness.
That is pretty much how January 1st felt to me when I awoke.
Where is the…?
But when did…?
….So that’s it?
We are here?
We are here.
And just like that, my anticipation was K.O.’ed by the reality of the idealizations’ fruition. You’ve felt this before haven’t you? That movie everyone raved about that ended up being a dud when you watched it. Two hours of your life you can never get back. Thanks popular consensus! That restaurant where your friend had the most incredible food and experience, but when you went it was an off night for service and a new chef had butchered the menu. That band you’d loved listening to for years, and then you finally got to see them live! And they were terrible, and now you don’t listen to them anymore.
The anticipation is quickly erased. And then what happens? That little anticipation orb inside of your chest is like the eye of Sauron in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It heightens its magnetic receptors, desperately looking about and searching for the next thing to look forward to.
‘Aaaah, vacation to Maui this summer!’
‘Oh, the job promotion I was promised!’
‘I can’t wait to go to that restaurant next week where my friend had the most amazing food and experience!”
It does add excitement to our lives doesn’t it? I’m going to go ahead and vouch for my friend, ‘anticipation.’ It has helped me get through a number of segments of my own life. I hadn’t yet developed this pending thought when I first began writing this (as often occurs in the beautiful process of writing), but I think this observation on anticipation is leading me to curiosity about the in between times. About the moment after the moment of expectancy is realized.
I would venture to say that there is a gap. I would further venture that contentment is the bridge that needs building in order to most effectively, efficiently, and safely span that gap. And I think, from my own personal experience and observation, that the building materials and blocks for the contentment bridge, are gratitude and thankfulness. Learning to appreciate what is–regardless of how nasty, turbulent, unwanted, dire, downright mean, or any other negative descriptor of a circumstance might be–that is the trick.
And it does so often seem like a trick. Like a Rubik’s Cube, in which every line would have to add up and be perfectly aligned and color-coated before it is possible to achieve or exhibit thankfulness. I’m going to speak to myself for a moment here because I need to receive this, but you are welcome to listen in if you desire:
“What you are talking about–circumstantial gratitude–that is child’s play. The wise. The considerate. The non-reactors. The thoughtful. They are the ones who understand this, and practice gratitude even when it proves difficult. They in turn, are the ones who hold the keys to contentment and happiness.”
“Right. Cool. Sure. Got it.”
“But self, just remember this: Like any sport or instrument, gratitude must be practiced.”
“Noted. Thanks for the tip. By the way, has anyone every told you that you are mega cool? It’s true. I have much gratitude for you.”
“You are kind. I am thankful for you.”
This is a difficult practice to be sure. I have been attempting to practice it more over the last few weeks, prompted by a book I read on prayer at table. But truly, I also choose not to practice it very frequently. It’s HAAAAAARRRRD. But there is a noticeable difference in nearly everything in my life between the two approaches, but sometimes it’s just….well, you know exactly how it is sometimes.
It’s not a ‘New Year’s Resolution’ or anything, but here’s to a year filled with gratitude. Cheers. *clink clink clink*
What things have you experienced the anticipation quotient with?
What are you anticipating for 2019?
Loveland, CO ¦¦ January 1st, 2019
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