emember, early last spring when our lawns were evolving from a light shade of brown to different hues of green? Remember how excited we were to take our trusted shiny lawnmowers out of storage to trim our lawns into the smoothness of putting greens?
Remember the smell of the freshly-cut grass and how, after you mowed it to that perfect length and raked perfectly round piles of grass, you would stand in the middle of your yard in order to take in all of its magnificence? Even the blisters on your hands felt good because they came from a labor of love. Remember the first time you had to unravel your trusted garden hose to water the small plants around your house? Remember how you would hurry home to make sure the tiny, green stemmed plants would have enough water to turn into magnificent blooms of every possible color?
Well, it’s now mid-September and most of us have long since hoped our entire yard would be attacked by a virus that would kill it all so we could put back in storage that dreaded oil-leaking machine we had to push around every Saturday morning for the past six months. We now hope that same virus would kill off all those damn flowers so we don’t have to feel guilty every time we’re too tired to pull out that stupid hose. Many of us came to hate the weatherman when he predicted rain only to have our hopes of a night off shattered by a cloudless sky.
The tiny blisters on our hands became permanent reminders that we weren’t rich enough to pay somebody else to do the things we now hated to do. Thinking back over the past few years I am struck by how many times there were when I enjoyed the anticipation of an event more than the actual event itself. Waiting for the first snowfall is a good example. Around mid-November I would look up to the skies, hoping the temperature would finally go below freezing so any rain would turn into snow. I could then take out my state of the art snow shovel with its patented handle in order to push the one or two inches of snow out of my walkway or in front of my garage.
A few years ago I purchased my first snow blower in September. I waited patiently for the first snow to arrive. My neighbors must have laughed when they saw me scrape an inch or two off my pavement so I could take that first half-inch of snow out of the driveway and then winter really arrived. Every morning before I drove to work I had to take out that stupid red machine to clear the two or three feet of snow that had drifted in my driveway from the night before.
I started to hate that machine, but I also hated my state of the art snow shovel more because I found out later its curved handle put more pressure on my back then the old straight handle I had used for most of my life. I remember one especially difficult winter when my now-hated snow blower’s clutch burned out, making it necessary for me to purchase my new SUV so I could drive over any snow the winter put in front of me.
Planting a vegetable garden is another example of how we seem to love something new but get to hate it as soon as the newness becomes oldness. I love planting my vegetable garden in the spring. I usually plant it before Memorial Day because mid-May always makes me think summer has finally arrived. Then, after pulling up all the dead plants that were killed by a May frost, I wait till the first week of June to replant. This never bothered me because I was still excited about what the garden had in store for me.
I would find myself disliking my garden around mid-July because I had become tired of fighting weeds that must be on some sort of steroid and bugs I never saw except for the damage they left behind. However, I could never really hate my garden because I knew that in the autumn there would be a bounty of fresh and delicious vegetables to put on my family’s table. Unfortunately this presents us with another problem because how many zucchini can one family eat?
By October my skin has turned orange because of all the carrots I have been forced to eat. I am also convinced that there is little left of my stomach because of the gallons of tomato acid I have generated from eating pound after pound of fresh garden tomatoes because I was always taught that it was a sin to waste food. For the next six months I find myself shunning the produce section of the grocery store in fear that a glimpse of a green been would induce an attack of projectile vomiting.
The first time we have to use the air conditioner is another example of how we learn to hate things soon after they lose their novelty. I remember putting the air conditioner in my bedroom window right after the kids got out of school in June and trying it out a couple of times to make sure it would do what it was supposed to do. When the heat finally arrived I would turn it on around three in the afternoon knowing that by evening my bedroom would be comfortably cool.
Then the nose bleeds would start. I knew I had a choice. I could suffer through the torment of late July heat and humidity or sleep in a freezer unit that sounded like it was powered by a jet engine. The humming of that machine brought frozen tears to my sleepless eyes. You might think, as soon as September arrived, I would pull the machine out of the window but, oh no! I knew it was an inanimate object but I didn’t care. I wanted it to suffer through the first snows of winter like it made me suffer through the summer.
The furnace is another utility I look forward to hearing because it represents a familiar form of security for my home. I turn the thermostat back on by Labor Day hoping the autumn night will be cold enough to spark it up because I have always enjoyed the comforting first scent of warmth generated by the furnace. Then, by the time Christmas gets here I shudder every time I hear the damned thing turn on because I know the sound of furnace represents the sound of money being sucked out of my family’s pockets. There are times I swear it never turns off, or when it does it is only because something expensive has gone wrong.
This always happens at the most inconvenient time, like Christmas Day or New Years Eve when the repairman charges dearly for interrupting his holiday. Anticipation of fondly remembered events often makes us smile until that first uncomfortable collision with reality wipes the smile right off our faces. Isn’t it a reliable sign of madness that we do the same things over and over again that got us into trouble in the first place?
Yet we keep on doing them all the time hoping for a different result!
Why anticipation is the root of all disappointment
by J. G. Fabiano
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and a writer living in York, Maine, USA
e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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