My family is still asleep. The Christmas tree is dark. The gifts lay around the tree. Anticipation is in the air.
Soon the Little Olives, some not so little, will come running down the stairs. I will tell them to calm down until Mr. Olive Crazy gets out of bed and assembles himself. I will remind them that this is a family holiday and all of us need to be present before opening the gifts. Their anticipation will get the better of them and they will collectively groan. Someone will run back upstairs to drag Mr. Olive Crazy out of bed.
Then I will light the tree and the anticipation will build. The kids will try to search through the gifts until I tell them to back away from the tree. They’ll then stand at a distance and try to identify which gifts belong to which child. They will usually be wrong. And, the anticipation will build.
Finally, Mr. Olive Crazy will come thumping down the stairs. I will make the kids wait until he is settled in a chair. I will tell them it’s time, the first gift will be opened to the sound of tearing paper, and the dam of anticipation will break.
Why do I and thousands of parents go through this ritual? Because anticipation feels better and is more positively charged than fleeting joy and certainly more than regret.
2011 has been a year of anticipation for me. My long-running political career came to an end a year ago. Without regret or joy or much feeling at all I accepted it and moved into a slowly building state of anticipation. What would come next?
At the beginning of this year I began reading every book or article I could find about blogging, website development, marketing, and the worldwide olive industry. I was an information sponge and the excitement of anticipation took hold.
By March I was ready to launch Olive Crazy. I began to write. Every day I read olive and olive oil-related books, research abstracts, market reports, and recipes. I watched videos of old men harvesting olives to classical music, girls instructing others on how to remove eye makeup with olive oil, and some old woman whipping up a cannabis/olive oil concoction. I was even more inspired and the anticipation grew.
Throughout the year, I kept up this pattern and while I did, my life began to change. I took on an additional child, my sweet but challenging stepson. I transitioned my lobbying career. I made a cross-country trip with the kids and thanks to a foodborne illness contracted in California, almost died. Even from my hospital bed I thought about olives and writing about olives. It made me feel good and the anticipation of what would come next filled me with purpose.
As I look at the still dark Christmas tree I know that it’s time to let go of my addiction to anticipation. While the kids rip open their gifts, I will accept that my life has changed, that I am not dabbling as an olive industry writer – I am an olive industry writer and that one day, soon I am sure, I will experience moments of joy or moments of regret for making this decision.
May the sun shine through your branches.