Anticipation Or Realization -- Which Is More Stimulating?

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Advertising folks can tell you that it is Anticipation without a doubt.

Their whole thing is creating desire, and the anticipation of results. Use "This" product or "That" service and they will lead you to your dreams. This is the promise. The fact that folks are seldom satisfied usually goes unnoticed. Reality rarely measures up. It leads to more desire, then more anticipation, etc. etc.

This is an oblique lead-in to the current state of fall-like weather we are enjoying. Cold air and brisk winds have waltzed their way smoothly into the last week or so, revealing a bit of leg and promising that Real Fall is just around the corner. Anticipation has us all scurrying about in preparation.

Furnaces are being turned on for the first time in months. Firewood is sought, bought and stacked. Chimneys are cleaned. Winter clothes are unpacked and checked for moth holes or maybe just their fit after a summer of indulgence. (Trust me, the sweaters didn't get to indulge.) How sweaters, coats, pants, etc. can shrink while being wrapped and stowed in completely benign circumstances is a universal conundrum, right up there with missing socks.

A whiff of "Holidays" plays in the air and is gone. A few enterprising stores bring out Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations and subtly begin to display them and suggest sales to be activated soon. There are hints of cold weather to come and a beginning suggestion of all the necessary means and products to get through it -- indeed, enjoy it -- as long as one pays attention to the signs. Which bring us back to the original question. Anticipation or realization?

Anticipation is noticeable around town. It is a process that involves each of us in our own way. Something is afoot which is different from the days of summer, and everyone seems to be aware of it. Our memory system is alerted. Lists that have been dormant for half-a-year are re-opened and checked. Scenes from the past and projections of coming events flash across our consciousness for brief moments -- a kid dressed like a pirate, holding a Trick-Or-Treat bag; a big ol' turkey and some cranberry sauce on a dinner table; and, of course, presents wrapped in bright paper and a fat guy in a funny red suit. We know these scenes will play out into reality, or at least we believe they will, and we become fully involved in Anticipation.

What to do? Check the car, check the insulation, get firewood, fill the propane tank, make the jams and jellies, plan travel if you are going away, get out winter clothes, check for leftover wrapping paper. Like ants or bees: get busy. We are in a state of Anticipation, where memories of similar times are our guide and schedule-maker.

Soon, the days will arrive, the planned for and anticipated days, the great days which top the charts for fun, excitement and, perhaps, pure pleasure. We swear we will not spend too much money this time, or eat too much rich food, or drink a wee bit too much, or grow impatient with others and their manner of celebration or lack thereof. We promise ourselves to be better organized and just enjoy the day. Plenty of time left, we say, as a few more golden grains slip through the hourglass.

And, seemingly, every year when the frenetic activity is over and we sit in weary contemplation of the kaleidoscopic days enjoyed, endured, survived, we say, "Next year, I'm going to enjoy the anticipation as much as the reality itself!" After all, there are far more days leading up to events than the events themselves, and maybe we should save the "Big Day" for something really special and unique.

My hope is that we can all pull that off, beginning this year. Already, we have a glimpse of what's coming. The days are much shorter and the nights colder than just a few short weeks ago. Deja and Vu are slipping in here and there.

We are inevitably being drawn into Anticipation. May we make each day as rich and fulfilling as we are given the resources to do. Realization is wonderful, but Anticipation lasts longer.

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