Three things I love: a blank sheet of paper, an early sunny morning, and a blank calendar. All three hold enormous expectation. Great expectations, you might say.
This morning I am delighting in all three. After years of meetings, assignments, appointments, obligations, I’m facing that blank calendar with the excitement of filling it with things I like to do.
Like lunching with friends. Writing with abandon (and no deadline). Thinking. Relishing long stretches of uninterrupted time to get jobs done that I have long postposed. Ordering priorities.
Life and all it entails rarely gifts one with such blank spaces. Oh, they are there, but I — a firstborn — am quite good at putting them off to make sure I accomplish the “musts.” The “musts” have always come before the “want tos” and as one who prioritizes to a fault, I usually let the “musts” regularly shove the “want tos” way down my list.
Psychology tells us what gives us the strength to postpone life’s pleasures — the “want tos.” Simple trust. In a 2013 study, the theory was put to test. The researchers concluded:
Delaying gratification is hard, yet predictive of important life outcomes, such as academic achievement and physical health. Prominent theories focus on the role of self-control, hypersensitivity to immediate rewards, and the cost of time spent waiting. However, delaying gratification may also require trust in people delivering future rewards as promised.*
For me, having a strong father — who I can report without equivocation never let me down — established a fundamental trust that extended far beyond my nuclear family. Add to that a mother whose most frequent statement was one of keen optimism, I was imbued with an indestructible sense of hope.
Hope. That’s it. That’s all. And that’s critical.
Hope turns these three little related things I so love — blank calendars, sunny mornings and blank pages — into happy and grand expectations. My frame of mind proves that.
Now I intend to fill each with purpose and dogged determination — which is something else my father gave me.