We live in a world of instant gratification. We don’t want it tomorrow, but we want it today, and we want it now! Instant gratification is the antithesis of anticipation. It’s the ability to not only look forward, but is the art of bringing forth that which does not yet exist. It’s the act of envisioning the future and then working to make that future a reality. It’s the ability to see the shape of things to come before they’ve appeared.
Where instant gratification is a cursory reaction to circumstances, anticipation refrains from the immediate for something yet to arrive. For better or worse, it sees through the fog, while instant gratification is the fog.
The late American author and humanitarian Norman Cousins (1915-1990) duly noted that “Wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences.”
It’s this “anticipation of consequences” that mitigates the never-ending rough and tumble seas that life brings forth. While anticipation sails us through calmer waters, instant gratification puts us in the eye of the storm. Baffled we wonder “How did we get here?”
In an age of anxiety, fretting, and worry, perhaps this is blow-back of wanting everything now? Having lost our ability to wait, our ability to be patient (see Patience for the ‘Moon’ – The Silent Virtue…), we find ourselves in spasms of desire and want, not knowing what to do from one moment to the next. We’re the dog wildly chasing its tail to no avail, as opposed to the dog eagerly anticipating its master’s homecoming.
If we are to navigate the trials and tribulations of life, then we must recognize that some things take time. We must accept that reckless deeds of today, bestow reckless consequences of tomorrow. And just the same, we must welcome actions with thought, foresight, and anticipation. They lay the groundwork for a better tomorrow; they lay the ground work for a successful life.
Another St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone and I often recall a long-ago frigid, raucous night. With some stalwart cronies in an old Ottawa Irish locale, a wall-sign posted “Free Beer Tomorrow”. But no matter the toasts and songs, everyone knew we had to pay today. We knew that sign would always say “tomorrow!”
Fortunately, the skulduggery of a few late winter-night brews does not a life portend. But true to form, it’s what we do today that matters tomorrow. Do we anticipate and act accordingly, or do we whimsically live for the moment? The choice is ours and ours alone. But whatever we do, there’s no escaping that anticipation is the bellwether of success. And maybe, just maybe, there’s some free beer tomorrow…
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