The Power of Anticipation

Imagine being in a box just big enough to sit in. Now imagine sitting in that box for an extended period of time. That, in a nutshell, is what road trips are like. And yet, it’s something that a lot of us are compelled to do.

Yes, road trips are often just a means to an end. A way—often the easiest, most economical—to get from point A to point B. And yes, for much of the time, road trips are kind of like banging your head into a locker, with your only relief being an old burrito from a gas station in the middle of nowhere. But when you look back on a road trip, there’s often a longing feeling that makes you want to do it again.

Why is that? A few reasons, I think. But perhaps none are more influential to the allure of a road trip than the feeling of anticipation it brings. When you’re in a car for hours on end, one thing you always have, no matter how far away or how close you are, is the idea of the end destination and what awaits you there. It’s what gets you through the long, monotonous hours on the interstate. It’s what makes driving through crazy, crowded downtowns a little more tolerable. It’s what gives you energy even though you haven’t been able to sleep more than a few hours over the last day and a half. And it’s what makes that old gas station burrito more delicious than filet mignon.

This certain power of anticipation isn’t limited to road trips, either. Take school, for instance. Whatever level it is—high school, college, graduate school, etc.—there’s always an underlying feeling of anticipation. Anticipation to complete a test, or a class, or a program, so you can move on to something better, whether that’s more school or finding yourself in a position to get paid. And it doesn’t stop there. This feeling of anticipation, this source of motivation and excitement, is in everything we do. School. Work. Social life. Road trips. Whatever. It’s what makes us work harder, study more, check the clock 86 times during the last hour of work, prepare a checklist for that trip to Europe seven months in advance and maybe learn French too, and more.

And that’s because we’re perpetually excited about better days. Better job. Better salary. Better relationships. Better conversations. Better car. Better life. It’s human nature. But it’s not just the end destination we’re excited about. We’re excited about the idea of the end destination, and the belief that whatever it is is going to be better than what we’re doing right now.

Here’s another example. It’s the last hour of work. You’re in a meeting. It’s kind of pointless (that’s not to say all work meetings are pointless, just most of them). And to make things worse, it’s dull. But, after the meeting you do get off work. And after work you do have the co-ed slow pitch softball championship that you’ve been looking forward to ever since you beat the Chiseled Koala’s in last week’s semi-final. Needless to say, the anticipation is all but killing you at this point. As such, you spend an entire hour daydreaming/visualizing possible scenarios the evening could take. All of them ending with you as the hero, of course. Maybe it’s a walk off grand slam—yeah, probably a walk off grand slam. Or maybe it’s a heroic catch in center field that nobody else could have made, definitely not David, who claims to be the best player on the team. Or maybe you do both at the same time. You’re not sure how that’d work, but you could probably pull it off. And then, just like that, you look at the clock and see an hour has passed and the meeting is over. It flew by. You even had a good time, too!

The anticipation of getting to where you’re going brings excitement—hope, even. It makes everything better. Both tough times and good times alike. Now, will the softball game live up to its lofty expectations? In this case, almost certainly not  (David’s just too good not to be the hero; the guy goes to the batting cages on his lunch break, for goodness sake!). In others, hopefully. No matter how the end destination plays out though, one thing is for sure: anticipation always adds to the life experience. Without it, days would be a little duller, people would work a little less hard, and life, in general, wouldn’t be as exciting. And that, in my book, is a win.

Running Has Its Moments

Over the years I’ve done my fair share of running. Not because I’m a runner by nature, or one of those people who just loves to run, but because I grew up playing soccer and doing so involves a good bit of running. Running in games. Running in practices. Running in my free time in order to be in good enough shape to run the duration of the game, and to potentially do so better than the guy next to me. In other words, running and I were pretty close. Maybe even close enough to grab an ice cream cone on the weekend together.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I hung ‘em up for good that I really stopped running. And, for a while, it was nice. Actually, it was better than nice. It’s not that I disliked running—if anything, it was the opposite; I always enjoyed the challenge and discipline it required, even the uncomfortableness of it—and I like to think I was pretty okay at it, but for the first time in a long time I didn’t have to run. And I liked that.

Recently, though, I began running again. Or at least I’m trying to run again (some days are better than others, and some days involve more sitting on the couch wearing sweatpants than others). For a number of reasons, really, among them being training for a half marathon. But if I’m being honest, I kind of just wanted to.

Which is weird. Running isn’t fun. It’s the opposite of fun. Like hitting yourself in the toe with a hammer hard enough to be uncomfortable but soft enough to be tolerable, for an extended period of time. But at the same time, there’s something desirable about it.

For me, running is a place of mental respite. A place I can escape to when my mind is troubled. Sure, it can also be a good place to think, but run far enough or hard enough and sooner or later your mind gets quiet. And then, at that point, all that matters is the next step. Not a professional, or financial, or relationship woe, or frustration with the dog tracking mud all over the house and generally being a maniac, just one foot in front of the other, until you do it enough times to get to wherever you’re going. Beautiful, quiet tranquility.

But that’s not to say that’s the only purpose running serves. Hopefully, on most days, you’re not running for those reasons at all. Hopefully you have more days filled with love and hope than you do anguish and turmoil. Hopefully you can run because you thought it was simply something that might benefit you. In some way, at least.

When I’m running I go through the aforementioned stages. First, I think about whatever is on my mind—a relationship, writing, the future. Then, after enough miles, my mind gets quiet and all that concerns me is putting one foot in front of the other. All this, I like to think, is part of a process to recharge.

Think of your mind as a battery. For a better visual, say that little iPhone battery icon on the top right corner of the screen. Maybe it’s a 6 Plus. Maybe it’s a 5s. Maybe it’s a piece of cardboard that you drew an iPhone on with sharpie, and went so far as to draw a little battery icon in the corner (and then in that case, well played). And before you run, you’re mind may not be fully charged. Perhaps, a lot of the time, it’s closer to red than it is green. But then you run and it starts filling up again, full of good, positive, creative energy, and before you know it your mind is fully charged, ready to tackle whatever challenge lies ahead.

Cool, right?

It’s because of all this, coupled with some intangible, unexplainable thing, that running is magnetic. Even though 90 percent of the time you hate it, and question what sane human being would do this horrible thing to themselves, when you get done you think to yourself, ah, that wasn’t so bad, I think I’ll do it again tomorrow.

If none of that resonates with you, there’s surely something in there about discipline, or pushing through discomfort and adversity, or accomplishing your goals. Not to mention the whole thing about running being healthy for you. Which is also pretty neat, especially when you start getting older and begin to realize nachos aren’t keeping that midsection tight.

Why You Should Spoil Your Significant Other

The stereotype on being spoiled is a negative one. It’s a kid who gets all the toys they ask for, or somebody who never hears the word no. Basically, a person who gets everything they want. But being spoiled doesn’t have to mean that—at least, not to me. To me, it can mean going above and beyond what’s considered ordinary for somebody you care for. Like your significant other. And is that such a bad thing?

So then, how do you do that, exactly? Go above and beyond, that is. Is it with a gift? Perhaps a teddy bear and some flowers. Or tickets to the big game. Or a surprise brunch at the park with some wine and cheese (the fancy kind, too!). Or is it with love and affection? A genuine, lasting hug. A kiss on the cheek when they’re not expecting it. Spending an entire day together doing whatever they want. Well, I say it’s all of the above. And more. Whatever comes to your mind, really. There’s no one way, or right way, to spoil your significant other. It only matters that you do. Here’s why:

Because they deserve it.

It’s that simple. Now go and tell your significant other they are the best thing to ever happen to you, and that you also have a coupon for them for a twenty minute back rub. From you. Because, you know, they deserve it.