Expectation is a curious orientation. At its heart, it is a state that we feel entitled to. When we turn ourselves outward, grasp invisibly into the future, and take hold of something un-yet realized … there’s something that feels justified; even if it doesn’t feel realistic. What we expect from within coalesces around a core of right: from inside our subjectivity, we have grounds to dwell upon even our most modest anticipations. There is something in the future that we deserve.

Which comes as both fulfillment and desolation; a bare recognition or ultimate disappointment. Jubilation. Despair. The accumulated evidence has made us feel this way. We are led to invest in the coming moment, to foresee the end of a manifest trajectory. Life, it may be said, encourages it. Patterns emerge effortlessly, and we project.

To expect, in the true sense of the word, carries with it a bouquet consequences. The random, unforeseeable nature of even the meanest scenario means that our dreams are constantly thwarted, but also that our most reasonable projections for the future refuse to manifest faithfully. We surround ourselves in fiction with characters perfectly adapted to the whims and uncertainties of their environments. The sleuth infallibly predicts the failure of the criminal. The perspicacious leader effortlessly calls the results of a vote. The Machiavellian schemer pulls the strings of countless hangers-on. The dream of a dream realized is recapitulated over and over. We might expect that at some point our own hard-won deductions or inductions will someday work out for us.

This is a season of expectations. Despite the anti-climaxes of ambitions thwarted and dreams unrealized; relationships, presents, and events unrequited despite our unquestionable deservedness; the holiday season is a lesson in acceptance, of things as they are with all of their unexpected manifestations. The map to the future can only ever be approximate. What we see coming our way resolves as it crests the horizon. Is that what I was waiting for?

Yes. This is what you get.

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