November 2018 will forever be the month I lived towards.
If you think about it, a big part of living is a sense of seeking; this rolling from and rolling towards. Perhaps it’s better described as a pinball machine, one in which we bounce off events in rapid cessation, *birthday* *Valentine’s Day* *Everyone else’s Spring Break* *Summer Body* Halloween* *Thanksgiving* *Christmas* until we get to that mysterious end of game vortex. We always seem to be going somewhere and we rarely are where we are.
November was the month I lived towards for a long long long time – about a year and a half. Ask my coworkers who will tell you how over it they were with the Disneyland talk (which hasn’t ended by the way). And since I already have a Disneyland themed blog coming up, I won’t get too riled up.
But it came and it went.
And now its a memory, toasty warm on the embers of my heart.
But, oh, that prior-to. The long waves of anticipation. The wishing the time would arrive. This space never gets the credit it deserves.
Think about all the acute joy that lives within anticipation: awaiting a long planned trip, the split second before a kiss, the 15 minutes until the cookies are done, the time between “your package has shipped” and when it arrives in your mailbox, your life from Monday through Friday, driving to pick up your kids after a long and ugly day.
This neglected emotion might tell us the more about ourselves than any other one. Let’s dissect it. What are you anticipating right now?
I’m anticipating a hotel stay and a work holiday party this weekend for my husband. And since I’m getting so f*cking good at 6th grade math, let’s divide this into parts:
Family time + swimwear + date night + dressing up pretty + the sound of waterfalls + probably alcohol + not feeling poor for a minute *minus* doing the dishes *minus* cooking meals
These are things that matter to me, and they feel fairly obvious writing them out right now. But remembering them becomes important during those other more ickier times in life where we feel aimless, like we have nothing to look forward to, nothing to bounce off of. When you find yourself in anticipation and you can recognize the values that reside in it, you get to work to shape new things around them when you need to.
But here’s the other thing about November.
As a person with chronic migraines, I always, always, always, somewhere deep in the back of my mind, anticipate a potential falling apart of plans. There is always a chance my head could explode (or feel like it did) and all the fun is ruined. This is exactly what happened on Thanksgiving this year. Leading up to this day, I spent hours of every day in anticipation of A grand gathering and a grand meal, researching recipes and getting excited about what I could cook, what I should wear, conversations I can have.
(These values were family time + creating + dressing pretty + probably alcohol.)
Within this anticipation was sheer joy but also a ton of stress, like, admittedly, I was overdoing it a bit.
But all that can feel totally fruitless when you wake up with a migraine. My family knows the drill already. When mom is having an episode, we drop everything and go to the hospital. At this point, I don’t even need my husband to sit there and hold my hand while I get my IV, he just drops me off at the curb and picks me up later.
But this can really happen to anyone, and by a million means; the disappointment, the immediate pause. Life is a pinball machine, remember?
So as I was laying there in the hospital bed with a crazy opiate high and an aborted headache, I was initially pissed that Thanksgiving was “ruined” but then realized that half the fun was over already, the planning, preparing, the thoughts of love and family, getting the kids excited, counting down the days. Of course, if my hotel stay is interrupted by an ER visit I’ll be extremely upset, but, that’s not my point.
The anticipation. These sweet five syllables is where it all can live. Moving forward, let’s remember that very little of this season is about those brief and momentary holidays. Its about the anticipation and preparation. The craft fairs, the list, the colors, sights, sounds, the creation of traditions, a sense of purpose and home. There is this collective anticipation that vibrates in every community, and with that, a sense of shared values that says something about us all.
This season, celebrate your anticipation like you would the moment of celebration. Recognize the little things that excite you along the way, see the value in your excitement (or dread, whichever) and make the most of it.