I BELIEVE IN…
Anticipation. It’s in the excited glow of a child’s eyes – just as it shines in the love glow of a bride-to-be. I really believe in anticipation – not just as an emotion, but as a wire that is threaded throughout our lives. Anticipation is a positive word. In school, I didn’t anticipate a poor grade on a paper. I dreaded it. I did, however, anticipate the first and last days of school- my first date – my first kiss.
We all learn anticipation early. I remember awaiting Christmas morning with its joyous moments of tearing colorful paper off the unseen treasures hidden beneath. My brothers and I were on extra good behavior for at least the whole week preceding Santa’s arrival. I’ve since experienced reflections of that big day again, first through my own children – and now through theirs.
Ice cream, and games at birthday parties were also anticipated eagerly. Getting my driver’s license was, at it is for almost everyone, a major event in my life and I could taste the exhilaration of being free to drive wherever and whenever I wanted. However, my parents anticipated that by adding a few restrictions, but when the license was mine, that didn’t really matter.
The big thing about anticipation is that although days, weeks and even months can go into the plans and hopes for the big day, the event itself may last for only a few minutes or hours. How long does it take to tear away wrapping paper? How long to recite wedding vows? Well, becoming a parent takes longer than that, I suppose. And the 14 hours of labor that my wife experienced with our firstborn wasn’t exactly what she had been anticipating. But the results have been.
When I worked for some Dilbert like managers, anticipation of each coming year’s vacations gave me a rung to reach for to help me get through each of the miserable days I spent under their control. I remember a co-worker asking me, “How can you plan so far in advance for your trips? What happens if something falls apart? Won’t that disappoint you?” What he didn’t understand is that REAL LONG TERM JOY is IN anticipation. Yes, occasionally plans won’t go as planned, but I believe they will. Decorating our baby’s room-to-be wasn’t put off because of the chance of a miscarriage. We relied on our anticipation being rewarded – and it was!
Finally, for many of us in the stage of life where I find myself now, after 42 years of marriage to a wonderful woman, I find that life has greatly exceeded my expectations. Now, the anticipation of what lies waiting for us when our days on earth are finished, gives us both our greatest anticipation and comforts us as the signs of aging advise us that eternal joy is no longer that far away.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.