I am not hung over but I awoke this first day in 2012 in a funk, physically and emotionally. I'm weary after several long. long days of parties, and short caffeine-fueled nights. I'm disgruntled because the way I like to end a year, the way I almost always end a year is contemplatively. I put away the Christmas ornaments (I know, Eric. There are six more days of Christmas still to come.) I clean the house and I ponder. Not this year. This year, I baked and laughed and drove and cooked and bustled about. It wasn't bad, but this morning, I feel utterly unprepared for A Fresh Start, although quite in need of one.
The problem is that I decided a couple of weeks ago on my word for 2012: anticipation.
I've already been scratched by the dog, whose anticipation for a walk preceded Dave getting out of the shower. I'm sitting at the computer, unshowered with a wee sore throat and distaste for the mess around me, when the still, small voice pops into my head: How can you best move into a posture of anticipation from here?
A good question.
Wikipedia tells me that anticipation is "an emotion involving pleasure, excitement, and sometimes anxiety in considering some expected or longed-for good event. Anticipation is the process of imaginative speculation about the future."
I'm good at the imaginative speculation part -- it's the expectation of a longed-for good event. That's the part that requires a stretch. The truth is that, as much as I wish it weren't so, too often I live in ways that say I fear the future. That's what I want to shed this year -- frankly, to turn away from, to repent, this year.
Interestingly, Wikipedia goes on to quote psychiatrist George Eman Vaillant who said anticipation was one of "the mature ways of dealing with real stress... You reduce the stress of some difficult challenge by anticipating what it will be like and preparing for how you are going to deal with it." He adds that tThere is evidence that "the use of mature defenses (sublimation, anticipation) tended to increase with age."
I like that anticipation isn't just a blind blithe approach to life, but one that prepares well. I like that the aging process enhances this function.
Let me say that I'm not naturally a pessimist. What I tend to do -- too much -- however, is to see my life as a to-do list, a series of problems to be solved -- often in a smaller period of time than I'd like.
And here's the heart of it. To quote the wiki once more, "To enjoy one's life, 'one needs a belief in Time as a promising medium to do things in; one needs to be able to suffer the pains and pleasures of anticipation and deferral.'" To believe there is enough time is important. To believe that Time is a good medium is another. But to believe that Time is a promising medium to me requires a belief in something -- or someone -- outside time. For years I've worn a bracelet with my favourite quotation on it: All shall be well. It's part of a longer quotation from medieval mystic Julian of Norwich who, in the midst of what looked like a fatal illness, had a series of divine revelations, among which were the insight that despite the sin and suffering of the world, the weight and heaviness that is so real, all would be made well. I don't remember the exact quote but it says that all SHALL be well, and all WILL be well, and all MAY be well and every kind of thing will BE well.
I want this quote to be more than a sentiment on a bracelet, but a new way to be in the world as I enter 2012. With anticipation.