For some, reading and study is the key to all things. For others, experience is required to achieve adequate understanding. Still, for most of us, we construct a reasonable composite of the two. We read, then do, then read a bit more and repeat. Over the span of a long lifetime, we come to accumulate a conception about which things are best experienced blindly and which absolutely require some preparation.
American author Heidi Murkoff can claim the sales of more than 19 million copies of her iconic book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” First-time parents around the world (and a more than a few who are taking a refresher course) have found pre-knowledge imperative to managing the process. Like most successful ventures, this one has inspired countless sequels and imitators. The “What to Expect” series has sold tens of millions of copies and is published in more than 30 languages.
Is there a seminal book for each precipice in life? Is there one that will make our transition to marriage, pet ownership or midlife better understood? Can’t we make the complex simple enough to fit into 300 neatly cut pages? And, can we learn to “expect” all of the future machinations yet to come? It may be more fun to plan for an upcoming wedding than to adjust to life after divorce or death, but can’t we learn and prepare for either with the same sense of nervous anticipation? Is our posture of expectation the same as that of foreboding, only with a better attitude?
There is a certain power to be found in knowing, preparing and practicing. But with it can come a sense of anxiety, insecurity and worry. If ours is life ever evolving, isn’t it better to embrace it expectantly, not begrudgingly? It may be the only choice we have.