Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Death of Anticipation

I came across a remarkable post recently written by Leigh, a woman with a life-threatening disease leaving a legacy for her son.

This struck me on at least two different areas: the insight into the loss of a sense of anticipation and the realization of her perspective.

Those that have attended seminars and workshops on time management will recognize the practice of prioritizing things according to their relevance were you to have only a short time to live. Leigh's blog is intended as a legacy for her son, the things she'd say to him as he grows up were she alive at the time.

Before I received a kidney transplant in 1996 I was forced to quit work at age 40, beginning a period of uncertainty about my future while on dialysis and waiting for a potential donor. A renal patient on dialysis will die without treatment, which tends to put things into perspective and allows me to view Leigh's situation differently than those that have never experienced this.

I can see that much has changed for those born in the last few decades in terms of anticipation. I've had struggles in my life that made me who I am and many in newer generations have not yet experienced real loss or periods of extreme uncertainty. Wrapped in the illusion of safety deemed necessary by an overprotective society, these young people have lost the concept of winning and losing (and the sense of a victory it entails).

I loved Leigh's example of the ever-available strawberry and the resulting lack of anticipation of its arrival to the disappointment when tasting its lacklustre flavour.

We tend to value things more when rare (such as gold) and anticipation doesn't fare well with items or experiences that are ubiquitous. The experience is like hearing a joke told by someone that spills the punchline before the details are fully available.