Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Anticipation: the act of looking forward

I know someone...  a young person, in her early twenties .. who is on the verge of some major changes in her life.  Nothing bad or ominous,  just part of the normal progression of things.  And in fact, not only are these changes neither bad nor ominous, but they are wonderful opportunities; they're not accidental, they are part of her plan... and a good plan it is.  She was excited when she shared the good news with me, and I was excited for her.

So I was initially a little surprised when she started listing all of the things she was going to miss about her present life. On the one hand, it's not as if her present life is bad, so of course she's going to miss it.. she has a lot of good things she's leaving behind.  But I was more than a little surprised when she insisted on focusing on what she was going to miss, even when others  (well, ok, maybe it was just me!) suggested that she should instead be thinking  about what was ahead.

I think back to those times in my life when I was on the verge of major changes.  I was someone who had never been away from home, and I moved across the country, away from family and friends, to a place where I knew no one.  But it was a good move, and I made new friends, and acquired additional family when I got married.  But then, as a new bride, I moved across more of the country, once again leaving family and friends, to a place where my new husband and I knew no one.  Of course I missed what I'd left behind, but the 'missing' was far outweighed by the 'anticipation'.   Perhaps more importantly, I waited until I'd actually moved on, before I started missing things...   I didn't 'miss' them, before I'd even left them behind.

I'm sure this young woman will do very well, as she wends her way down her new path.  She'll survive, she'll adapt, she'll find new things that become her favorites.  Nevertheless, I'm saddened that she spent what could have been a time of anticipation, and expectation, and excitement..  cataloging those things she was leaving behind.  She'll have plenty of time to miss the old...  but she's missed her opportunity to anticipate the new.  Rather than looking forward, she chose to look back -- before it was even behind her.

Of course I can't hear the word anticipation, without thinking of the ketchup commercial, but the song was originally Carly Simon's song  Anticipation... I can remember the tune, but not the words, so  I decided to look at the lyrics.   And I was sorely disappointed.  Carly sings of Anticipation keeping her waiting, but than at the end of the song, she concludes that she's going to stay right where she is, because "these are the good old days"....   so maybe I have it wrong.  But I don't think so.

My young person has now already moved on...she missed the chance to anticipate, and is already stepping into her new life.  I wish her the very best, and - at least for the moment, I'm going to quit worrying about something that it's too late to change.  And I'm looking forward to my next cup of tea.


  1. I think, perhaps, your friend did the right thing to just jump in, and not take time to anticipate. Carly Simon sang about fear. You and your friend got it right.

  2. I believe that it is possible to anticipate the future and still feel grief at the loss of something.

    But then, I know a lot about grief and looking back.

    In the middle of the worst grief, you hope, anticipate tomorrow, even as you weep over the past.