There is nothing mystical about foresight. It’s standing up on your toes for a quick peek over the crowd to catch a glimpse of what might be next. My father taught me early on to anticipate. If you’re a waiter, don’t just deliver what they order. Think ahead whether they may want more than their meal. When you’re driving, count on the likelihood that this distracted guy on the cell phone may cut you off without looking.

Over the years I’ve trained myself to think three or four steps ahead before taking action. Though I often miss the mark, more often than not this bit of mental legwork plays to my advantage. Anticipating events in the physical world saves grief. I know this to be true.

But emotional anticipation isn’t such an easy tread.

I saw a delightful film the other night called “We Bought a Zoo”. There’s a wonderful scene in which the new owner of the zoo, played by Matt Damon, comes across an escaped full grown 850 pound North American grizzly bear. Damon’s character stumbles onto a grassy hilltop where the bear is mere feet away. The normally sedate creature appears more animated than he’s ever seen him, almost drinking in the cool morning mist gazing out into the open valley before him. Then the bear notices Damon and his mood shifts. But Matt can’t bring himself to use his gun. The bear closes in and angrily slaps the weapon from Damon’s hand and roars in his face. A fellow zookeeper hits the bear with a tranquilizer dart and drops him at Matt’s feet.

Other zoo personnel gather round and remark that Damon is lucky to be alive.

“He was completely free for a moment”, he says to the others.

They look at him. And Damon’s character does something remarkable.

I want to expand his enclosure. Make it much, much bigger.”

Not a reaction typical of a man who moments before faced death. But he recognized what the bear had been going through. He anticipated what it would be like for this poor creature to go back to the way things were. It is this sort of compassion, not just for an animal, but for the people in our lives, those close and valuable to us, that elevates the substance of who we are as human beings.

I haven’t often been very good at anticipating things. I never saw either of my divorces coming. But there is much to be said for perseverance. So I continue to try peeking over the crowd to get a brief glimpse of what others might need from me. And in so doing, I trust that I will better meet my own needs.

Or not. With my timing, the bear would have eaten me.






26 thoughts on “Anticipation

  1. You are off to an outstanding start. Blog looks good, content is intriguing, and you are interacting in your comments. I think you do well at this blogging enterprise. So glad you left the comment at my site to let me know about this. Good luck and I look forward to your future endeavors.


  2. In my reply to your comment on my blog, I said that your comment alone made me glad that I’d decided to participate in the challenge this year. Finding your blog makes me even gladder. This post is beautiful–fresh, original, heartfelt and amusing. What makes it special, though, what sets it apart (aside from the fact that you’re a terrific writer) is the startling emotional honesty.

    I’m so pleased to have met you, Michael, and I’ll be looking forward to reading the rest of your A to Z posts.

    • Kern,

      What a delightfully sweet note. Thank you for your warm reception. Being a brand new, first time blogger, I’ve got plenty to learn. Still finding my way around the whole blog-osphere. The emotional honesty wasn’t planned, by the way. I think it must be some kind of knee-jerk reaction to years of being lied to. What can I say? I overcompensated.

      It’s a delight to know you too. I look forward to reading more of your work as well. Cheers.

  3. I’m here via A to Z. Nice to meet you!
    I truly enjoyed this, and the ending was perfect. Made me laugh immediately after deep thought. I like it like that! 🙂

    • Thank you again for stopping by and leaving such a sweet note. I’m still getting a handle on the blogging community and it’s a bit of a challenge to keep up. But I’m happy to hang in there if I can get a laugh or two out of my readers. Cheers.

      • I’m in the same boat. I started blogging in October but have been so sporadic it still feels pretty new. I’ve had so much going on in my life it was a little crazy to take on this challenge, but hey, you only live once, right?
        You have a lot more comments to keep up with than I do, but that’s a good thing (even though it can be time consuming). You have a gift! I sincerely wish you well on your blogging journey, although I must admit there ARE selfish reasons involved. I enjoy reading your stuff!

  4. Beautiful blog! I like your design. I thought the font was a little big for my tastes, though. Great thoughts! I am always anticipating and planning. I wish you the best with the A to Z challenge!

    • Lucy,

      Thank you for your kind encouragement and you words of praise. I’ve amended a few things (like the font size) based one yours and Nutschell’s suggestions. Being a brand spanking new, first-time blogger, I’m still riding this learning curve like a roller coaster. But I’ve gotten some nice feedback and met a few interesting folks. Thanks again.

  5. Hi Mike!
    Glad to see your blog up and running!! So glad the workshop inspired you to start your own blog. I feel you have much to share/offer the world. I don’t see any problems with your comment section, except that it’s too small. An easy fix would be to choose another wordpress template. Good luck and happy blogging!

    • Nutschell,

      Thank you kindly for your helpful suggestions. I’ve made a few amendments and will continue to learn from other bloggers just how this whole animal works. I changed my template and modified a couple of items that people had remarked on. I think I’m getting the hang of it. But we’ll see. Thank you again for all your words of wisdom.

  6. Very good read Michael. Pleasantly unexpected actually, that you have given ‘anticipation’ not as text book definition but with much deeper interpretation of its meaning.

    Note: I’m with Alana, that it would be easier to comment without login in to say facebook but with our own current blogging flatform. I’m with blogger.

    • I’ve changed the template for my blog and removed the “Comment” safety’s so I think I’m in a better position on my blog’s functionality. Being a brand new blogger as of six days ago, I’m still trying to catch up with all my comments and greetings. Thank you so very much for your glowing response to this posting and for your keen suggestions. I believe I’ve addressed most of my blog’s trouble spots. It’s very nice to meet you. Cheers.

  7. So glad you are going for the challenge, Michael! I love the layout of this blog, how it feels like I am turning the first “page” on my Kindle.

    Interesting post. I need to check out that movie – generally a fan of Damon. I think that the story you chose to discuss is very interesting – I really believe the way a person reacts to tragedy or an emergency situation says a lot about who they are. There are those who turn instantly to anger or feel victimized, and then there are those who try to see the silver lining, learn something from the situation or help others.

    Along those lines, I heard about a blind woman on Staten Island during Hurricane Sandy who said that rather than focus on what she was losing in the storm, she would take her guide dog and set up an impromptu station to give people who had lost everything a little bit of hope, food and clothing. She set up her little station in a park and became the central command for disaster relief efforts in those first few days after the storm, she was even interviewed on CNN. She said she almost felt fortunate that she couldn’t see the devastation, because she could focus more on helping people and offering hope than viewing all the damage that people kept telling her about. Such a strong woman to head out in the middle of a storm, without the power to see, with nothing but her dog and the contents of her closet and pantry, and be able to connect with people who needed help and organize and lead others.

    I love stories like those that highlight people who have been tested and stood right back up, stronger and more compassionate than ever.


    PS – Do you know if there is another way for people to comment? I often see a form to fill out with Name/Email/Website when I visit WordPress blogs, so I can enter a comment by filling out name and email, but for some reason this is requiring me to log in through WordPress, Twitter or Facebook to comment. I’m fine logging in via Facebook, but just in case you run across visitors who don’t use Twitter, FB or WordPress, might be useful to look into the comment options.

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