It is a beautiful, sunny day today. Just right for a walk with my canine companion. A light breeze, not too chilly; no need for hat or hood. Regular dog walkers out and about to greet and put the world to rights with.
But I did not enjoy the walk as much as usual because, prior to departure, I had heard the weather forecast. Snow is anticipated in the next couple of days. I had this gnawing anxiety in my stomach because our local pavements tend to get very slippery when it snows. The idea of a dog walk feels very precarious to me. Last time it snowed I slipped on the ice and damaged both flesh and pride.
I was nearly home when I remembered some wise words I had heard recently: that when one anticipates (and therefore remembers) a situation where there is stress attached, the body goes to the state the brain is instructing it to. So, instead of enjoying the reality of today’s walk and all its attendant nuances and pleasures, my mind had latched onto the possibility of the Snow Event and put my body into alert mode.
Once I had become aware of what was happening, I became free again to enjoy the current walk. I then set to thinking about joyful anticipation. Meeting up with friends or family; an occasion where the “posh frock” may be required; Christmas; a forthcoming holiday. Might the same dangers apply here I wonder?
Now I, of all people, am not knocking the realm of delicious fantasy… As long as I continue to see it for what it is. For how many times has one anticipated an event and found the reality to have been something completely different?
Neither am I knocking informed and realistic preparation of an anticipated event. Checking the posh frock still fits; purchasing Christmas presents before The Day; leaving enough time to stumble round the streets with canine companion (perhaps take a walking pole too?).
But what I don’t need to do is either to experience the snow twice, or have my expectations dashed when delicious fantasy turns out to be messy reality. Our experiences and our thinking minds are great at informing us, as long as we don’t then allow them to obscure what’s actually there.