I have an earworm, and although it sounds like a hygiene issue, it is actually a technical way of saying I have a song stuck in my head. To be specific, it’s Carly Simon singing Anticipation.
It’s a great song, and it’s in the right vocal range so that I can sing along with it, which is rare because my range is very very small. In fact, if I sing in the shower, Paul and/or Madi have been known to run to the bathroom door and ask if I’ve hurt myself.
But a sing-along is not the reason I’m hooked on that song. I am in a state of anticipation: I leave for the beach on Friday with my friend Joyce.
During the long, dark months of winter Joyce and I start thinking of a weekend at the beach. We put it on the calendar, and the anticipation begins. Then we call in the reservations; we start texting pictures of previous beach trips; we check the weather; we start thinking about what to take.
I’ve always been horrible at waiting. Well, I’d better clarify that. I’m pretty decent at waiting for good things, but when I know something unpleasant or painful is coming up, I can’t stand it. I want to get it over with.
The first time I truly learned this about myself was when a good friend of mine was moving back to England. We had been friends for 4 or 5 years and saw each other every day as we walked our kids to school. Our kids were best friends. She was part of the fabric that made up my daily life.
She told me as soon as they found out, and we cried and vowed to make the most of our time left. And we did. But it was several months until they left. I dreaded it so much, and the longer the time stretched, the more painful it got. Finally it got to the point where I just wanted them to leave so I could feel the worst of it instead of just the anticipation and start the healing.
When it became a reality that Madi was leaving for college sooner than later, I felt the same way. I knew it would be painful. Part of the reason was because as much as I was dreading it, she was excited by it and would talk about it every chance she got. It was a long time to hold back the tears.
Part of what’s so frustrating is that I know in my mind, I should be in the moment. We all should. Anticipating the future doesn’t make it better; it just makes you enjoy the present less. I try to practice staying present, but sometimes I forget. And sometimes as hard as I try, the anxiety comes back. Dan Millman wrote an amazing book called The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, and in it there is a quote,
Where are you? Here.
What time is it? Now.
What are you? This moment.
On Etsy I just saw an analog watch that instead of having the numbers or even Roman numerals on the watch face, it said “now” at each of the 12 intervals. I have a feeling that if I ordered it though, I’d just spend a lot of time anticipating its arrival.