Friday, December 24, 2010
Christmas Eve Anticipation
Christmas Eve feels to me like the height of anticipation and expectation. This emotion is one that spreads quickly in a very contagious sort of way. It's kind of a delicious feeling that something is about to happen but you're really not sure what. I think that's what kids feel and they pick up and help spread this feeling of "the unknown".
Sometimes this sense of anticipation becomes "crowd mania"- interesting to watch if you're not heavily invested in the outcome. Any time we see a group of people surrounding something or clustered around straining to get closer to the core, we're rather inspired to join in. We don't want to miss out on something even when we don't know what the "something" is. The more the crowd grows the more people want to be there. Sometimes it is disappointing. Like when everyone runs to one side of the boat during a whale watching expedition and you can't see what they are looking at and then someone says "oh- it's just a porpoise". You can feel the disappointment and everyone kind of moves away. If you've never seen a porpoise that's pretty amazing and yet you rather feel let down because it's not the whale the crowd had you anticipating.
Christmas can be a bit like that I think.
In the Christmas Story that I've been told, for days everyone is following this incredible star in the sky. It's a star unlike anything they have ever seen- much brighter, awesome and inspiring. As all these people are following it, I wonder what they are anticipating. I might be just cynical but I think the less spiritual in the crowd are thinking they are following something that will take them to a pot of gold, or for a hungry and tired Shepard, maybe just a soft grassy bed and a big pot of stew? I can imagine picking up all these people along the way that have just latched onto the excitement and anticipation. The longer the journey, the greater the dreaming and the expectations I figure. So then I wonder... when the crowd got to the end point and it was "just a baby" was there a bit of a collective sigh of disappointment? Did anyone say "is that it"? Did the crowd filter out a lot and shuffle off- disappointed that they had invested so much time and effort on a "wild goose chase" just because they had bought into the excitement of crowd mania?
And then, years later, did anyone say- geez I was there that night and I didn't have the sense to appreciate what I was seeing? I know I've done that at times in my life. I've even met people that had amazing things to offer that I didn't always appreciate until they were gone from my life.
I think the danger of anticipation and expectation occurs when we attach a goal to the emotion. In "The Secret", the now famous books and movies, you are encouraged to set a goal in order to "manifest your desires". I don't agree with that. I think you may be severely limited by your imagination then. I think you could manifest a pot of stew and miss the Messiah because he wasn't in your wildest dreams. Or you imagined he would be bigger, stronger, more talkative!
I think what is amazing is just feeling the emotion, feeling the anticipation of Christmas eve and the wonderment of a collective number of people all feeling good about something when they don't even know what the "something" really is. So I'm going to put my sights on the star, the light, and just appreciate the star without trying to figure out or create something at the end of it. Be in "the now" as Eckhert Tolle would suggest.