One dictionary definition of hope is “to cherish a desire with anticipation.”
Anticipation tends to be a loaded concept. I have friends who love anticipation so much. They try to build it up around everything. To them, it almost doesn’t matter what the “thing” is; the anticipation is the part they enjoy. These are the people that make paper chains for their kids, counting down the days until Disneyland. They have also been known to drive for hours, without telling the kids where they are going. Or, if your like my husband, you make your poor fiancee pack a cold weather suitcase and a warm weather suitcase, so that your honeymoon destination can stay a surprise.
Anticipation can be fun, but it can be also painful. It can be especially painful in those times where we find ourselves holding on to the promise of better, for a long, long time. In those times, don’t you want to give up on the hoping? Don’t you find yourself saying, “I don’t really care. Whatevs.”
When you find yourself in that place, you are no longer hoping. Remember, hoping is to cherish a desire with anticipation. When the parent glues all the paper strips together for their child, they are teaching their child to celebrate the cherishing. It’s like throwing a little party for the waiting. They tell their kids, “Every day for thirty days, we will stop and take off a strip, and every day we will know we are closer to our family vacation.”
These parents know a couple of secrets. First, they know that their kids will need a visual reminder of how many days there are until their trip, because kids don’t always know how days work. But, aren’t we grownups the same way? I’m not quite sure how a stressful Monday, at work, slowly meanders its way to five o’clock, while a lazy Saturday morning races to noon. If I had a paper chain for all the goals in my life, I might be able to cherish the anticipation longer. Wouldn’t you? Only three more red ones and two yellows!
These parents also know that the cherishing actually increases our capacity to desire. If your trip to Disneyland is just another weekend in September, you’ve lost a part of the gift. If we find ourselves rushing towards our goals in a way that does not stop to cherish, we will find ourselves reaching goals we no longer care about. You know, like in that one movie? Or twenty?
So how do we continue to cherish a desire with anticipation? I would love to hear your thoughts. For me, the most dangerous thought I can think is, “Whatevs.” As soon as I turn off the cherishing and desiring, I can get lost in passivity. What about you?