Living for Anticipation
Someone said this the other day and it smacked me in the head. I was gobsmacked.
I do this.
I live for this.
I am such an addict.
Seriously, I could become addicted to just about anything: a thought, a food, an idea, a feeling, a feeling about a feeling. Fuck.
When this man said that he realized one day that he was just living to anticipate, that he was rarely present, he listened to be able to speak, he ordered things online in order to get the high of anticipation. He needed, always to have something to look forward to. Which was fine. Except it left him walking the addict’s wasteland of the present. If there is nothing right in this moment that we are happy with, then we are forever and ever searching for more, for different, for the high of anticipatory gratification in the next moment.
And he nailed me to the spot in my life where I think that I am present, where I think that I am living in the now, but really, I am not. I am living for the moment that I can once again anticipate something.
This man’s one statement caused me to review in a movie flashback like moment, the last year. How much I did just spend idle time, wandering through my life, no real agenda. Just being here, doing things, there was literally no place to go, nothing to do. And I was happy. I was super privileged that my pandemic experience was quiet and eventfully uneventful, if that makes sense.
But now that the world is returning to whatever we have all agreed passes for “normal.” I am living again for the anticipation of being satisfied elsewhere, with new whatever. I see it. I feel it. And it has unmoored me...again.
I realize that I do not really know how to live right here, right now. I mean I have moments and some of them are quite long and enjoyable. But most of the time, I do not enjoy the right now. I am always looking forward to the next...in fact, living for it.
And I see that is addictive. There must always be a next in order for this paradigm to work. I can’t be happy in the now because the happiness in the now is contingent on me getting satisfied in five minutes from now. And so it is all ruined. I am still chasing highs, one after another. And I seriously do not know how to stop.
Well I do know how to stop I just don’t seem to want to more than I want to.
I can feel it right now. I am here writing in my bed. But I overslept, I was super tired and the dog thought that getting me up to go outside and play several times last night was a good idea. She and I are going to have a talk about this today. So my mental engine is flowing, I can feel the driving force to hurry up and get this writing done so that I move onto the next thing. HURRY UP!
This would be the mantra of my life. HURRY THE FUCK UP, ERIN!
Which is super ironic because I feel this way, and yet, I am never in the now.
So I am doing the only thing that I can think to do. Stay here, writing this down. Clickity clack on the screen my words go. One after another, filling up the space of now. Attempting to let go of the pressure of five minutes from now, the clock, the job, the morning routine. Release it all to something else. I sit here somewhat panicked, typing away and not allowing the engine in my mind to drive me anywhere else. I need not live for anticipation. But that is super stressful and I am having a hard time with it, to be honest.
So I defiantly, against no one but myself, sit here allowing the clock and my mind to go slack. I am not living for anticipation. This moment right here is all I need. I look around at the sleeping dog and cat. They are not disturbed by what is going to come next. They seem absolutely ok with now. Neither of them is anxiously hovering for food, or me to rise from the bed. They are just here with me, lounging around in the now. I envy them. I am not sure I have ever lounged in the now. What would I even wear?
So it is going to take some time to look at this new insight on my old behavior. To see that life lived for what comes next is really just a new version of alcoholism. I leaves me thinking, “Sweet Jesus, still? For fuck’s sake, when will I ever be free?”
And I won’t. It is my moment to moment task. My daily struggle. My magnum opus. Some people will do great things, me, I am going to just be over here trying to not fuck up my life with addictive behavior that seems to morph and change all the damn time. Contentment feeling almost always out of reach. Satisfaction just right over there...
I am going to begin again right now. Committing myself and this moment to nothing else. I need nothing, I don’t care what is coming next and I am fine. Right here.
And with that, I calm. My body and mind relax. But then a little niggly thought creeps in...am I now still living for anticipation, but now I have just changed it up so that I am living for the anticipation of not anticipating?
I think I am going to go back to bed. Or rather, since I am still in bed, simply pull the covers up around my shoulders and slouch into lounging. I care not what I am wearing. I am going to just sit here and stare out the window into the dawning day and breathe in and out until the world forces me to do whatever comes next. Doing my best to anticipate nothing...