Prognostications are a notable proof of the wild curiosity of our nature, grasping at and anticipating future things, as if we had not enough to do to digest the present.
Prognostication: a statement about what is going to happen in the future
For me, this usually takes the form of worrying about some upcoming event. It is not a positive thing. I run through multiple worse-case scenarios in my head, then I run through all the things I could do to counteract them. Often I dream about them. Very, very occasionally my fears become reality. More often than not, all is fine. It represents nothing but time wasted; yet I know I will do it again next time.
I was often fond of saying, ‘Pessimists are never disappointed.’ I still believe this to be true; a pessimist will either have the satisfaction of saying, ‘I told you so,’ or they will be pleasantly surprised. It is not a good way to live though. It’s rather energy sapping.
Some people I know always seem to anticipate future events with optimism and excitement; they amaze me, and to an extent I envy them. They must also have the ability to swallow any disappointment they might experience when their prediction falls short. In addition, they are often the very people who always manage to find the silver lining in the cloud.
There have been many times when I have eagerly anticipated a particular event, and it has lived up to my expectations. But, there have also been times when the opposite has occurred. A simple example of both is visiting a restaurant; said restaurant may have received glowing reviews, or a friend may have eaten there and gushed about the divine food. So, you book a table and spend the whole week salivating, waiting for your dinner date and eager to experience the most delectable food ever. Once at the restaurant and seated with food in front of you, there are two options:
a) The meal is indeed heaven-sent.
b) The chef has an off night and you would have been better off getting take-away from your local greasy fish and chip shop.
I have experienced both of these scenarios.
The first, most recently yesterday when I met a friend for lunch at a much hyped-up eatery. It was amazing food. From the crisp tempura zucchini flowers, melt-in-the-mouth lamb ribs with plum sauce and little parcels of pulled lamb dumplings through to the most delectable chocolate, peanut butter and coffee dessert (which was just the right amount, I finished it without feeling sick nor wanting more). I wish I had taken a photo to put up here. You’ll just have to trust me.
The second most commonly happens to me when I frequent a favourite restaurant just one time too many. The most memorable of these experiences happened quite a while ago at one of my absolute (ex) favourite Japanese restaurants.
Having lived in Japan and eaten real Japanese food, I am a total Nihon-ryori (Japanese cooking) snob when it comes to so-called Japanese restaurants in Australia. Most of the ones I have been to seem to be run by non-Japanese. My particular pet-hate is the revolving sushi places here … yuck, yuck, yuck. (For starters, sushi should be prepared seconds before you consume it; it should not be pre-prepared in the morning and spend hours revolving around and around before some hapless diner who has not experienced actual Japanese sushi plucks it from the conveyor belt, dips the whole thing in soy sauce — it should only be the fish — and pops it in his gob.)
Anyway, my previous go-to restaurant for authentic Japanese food, prepared by an actual Japanese (nationality) chef, was the place I recommended to all and sundry as the only actual Japanese Japanese restaurant in town. Then, the chef/owner opened another place down the way, and employed a non-Japanese chef to run the kitchen in the original place. I was not aware of this. So one night, eagerly anticipating my meal of feather-light crispy tempura and freshly prepared sashimi (not to mention miso soup not out of a packet) we lobbed into the restaurant and ordered. My anticipation, based on many past dining experiences, was high — really high. I had been thinking about what I would order and what I would eat first for weeks. I was visualising the food on the plate and the taste of it in my mouth. I recall saying to my husband how much I was looking forward to this meal. On arrival, I did note the new, non-Japanese chef and alarm bells jangled, but we were already seated. The food arrived and without even tasting it, the disappointment was phenomenal. It looked wrong, and it was. The sashimi had no flavour, the miso soup was out of a packet (yes, I can tell the difference) and the tempura … eeurgh … the batter was not unlike the batter used by the greasy fish and chip place down the road, thick and floury. We have not been back since. We ate there one time too many. Our memories are sullied.
As stated in the quote, I feel we spend too much time anticipating (either positively or negatively) the future and not enough time appreciating the present. Instead of dreaming for ages about some future occurrence, should we not be just focusing on what is happening here and now, then focusing on the future experience when it actually occurs?
I have to wonder if we unwittingly destroy the pure enjoyment of the now by dreaming about it, trying to manipulate it and predicting what is going to happen and how we are going to feel.
In my case, I often spend so much time fretting about what could happen, I end up not appreciating the experience for what it is.
But surely, eager anticipation and high expectations of an event are equally as detrimental to the enjoyment of the time when it finally arrives? (Had I not had such high expectations of my meal, I may have enjoyed it a bit more than I did. Nobody else in the restaurant appeared put off by their food.)
In my current situation, I am taking each day as it comes. I have been forced into doing this, and it has been good for me. Some days are good, some are not so good — but I haven’t wasted my previous days fretting or planning or anticipating, which makes each day, when it arrives, that little bit more enjoyable.