Friday, June 16, 2017

The Delight of Waiting

It’s that time of the year again. The world's big video game companies have just gotten together at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, E3, to announce new games and release dates. It is a time of excitement, and the internet is full of hype, talking about all the trailers and teasers. But there is a bittersweet side to all this: we will have to wait for months before we can get our hands on those shiny games. In this era of instant gratification, when we have an unfathomable reservoir of entertainment to amuse ourselves with, it can be frustrating to have something withheld from us.

Sometimes what we want is not available. Perhaps we cannot afford it, like a house big enough for a family, or it has not been released yet, like the next generation of video games we just got an avalanche of trailers for, or you have not been able to find it, like the intimate connection of a romantic relationship. It may seem like the things we desire most are always those which are out of reach. This is not just confirmation bias; the grass on the other side of the river always looks greener. When something catches our eye and it is available right now, we can just order it up with a few clicks, and within a couple of days it is ours. We enjoy it for a little while, and then lose interest, finding ourselves back where we were before, wanting something new again.

Does this mean that we are stuck with an absurd hand of cards, plagued with desires that burn white hot within us but can never be sated? Before we despair, let's try looking at things from another perspective. What if it is not things that we truly crave, but the well-earned payoff of a struggle? We find that the more we have wait, look forward to, or work hard for something, the sweeter it is when it finally comes to us. Waiting a year or two after seeing the trailer for a movie or video game lets it stew and simmer, the aroma readying our appetite for the moment it is ready.

So when the antsy feeling of anticipation comes, we should not look for ways to distract ourselves from it, but embrace it as an essential part of the greater experience of our desire. The longing, looking forward, imagining what it will be like, is the heat of the cooking fire that makes it fulfilling. Once we adopt this view, we may even find that things which are available now might be better if we wait for another time. The new episode of your favorite show can wait until some evening when you are tired and in the mood to sit back and enjoy something. As for now, I am going to patiently wait for the games we saw at E3, soak in the anticipation so that I am ready to fully enjoy each game when it is released, and in the meantime be happy and work on projects that will pay off in the future.

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