Thursday, August 27, 2009

Anticipation, Anxiety and Reality

For many of us anticipating, expecting, and imagining are great causes
of anxiety. Waiting can drive you crazy! Nowhere was this more evident
than amongst surfers on the east coast last week as they watched and
waited for the arrival of the swell from Hurricane Bill. In this age
of information overload, internet surf forecasting web sites, instant
buoy readings, Dr. Steve Lyons and the Weather Channel's Tropical
Update (at 50 minutes after every hour), and the 24 hour tv news cycle,
who didn't know that Bill was coming? Who hadn't heard that waves
from the projected swell looked big? A 19 foot buoy reading with 18
second intervals is not something we usually see on the "right coast".
Even people who weren't surf obsessed were being warned about rip
currents, waves in the 20 foot range and dangerous conditions.

A look at Facebook on any day last week from Tuesday on saw links
to Bill's projected path, comments about people being unable to sleep
or work, people speculating about travel plans. What a buzz, what a
hype. Everyone was getting whipped up into a frenzy.

Bill brought some fun waves and lot's of over-reaction. Beaches and
roads were closed. Surfers not allowed in the water. At the Sandy
Hook National Recreation Area in NJ some were even arrested for
surfing. The interesting thing was that the giant waves that were being
anticipated never really materialized. Much of the anxiety, anticipation,
and hype were for naught. I'm not complaining, overhead waves are
great especially when the water is warm. Who could complain about
surfing good waves for 4 days in a row? But it surely didn't live up to
the hype, it wasn't what many expected.

So often in life we discover that too much anticipation, too much hype
results in little more than anxiety. Whether it is anticipating a job
interview, a birthday party, a test, or even a trip, the anxiety often is
much greater than, and interferes with our appreciation of the reality.
Too much anticipation can actually ruin things and not let us live in
or enjoy what we get. Sure it's good to prepare, to study, to do some
planning, but in this day and age of information
overload, of all sorts of advice from experts, it's easy to get too intense,
too involved, too anxious. Try to find the balance if you can. Too much
hype, too much anxiety and anticipation actually gets in the way of you
doing your best, gets in the way of having fun. Maybe that's the lesson
of Hurricane Bill?

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