What delight to turn the calendar page to March! By some measures this is the beginning of spring. I haven’t seen a robin yet, but neighbors have.
When we went into lockdown almost a year ago, someone asked what I missed most. “Making plans,” I said. Normally by March I would be looking forward to family visits from afar, a long weekend in Door County, a day at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. With no idea how long the pandemic would tie us down—maybe two or three months, we feared—planning was impossible. A nebulous “when this is over” was no substitute for a scheduled treat.
Anticipated joy is the pleasure we expect from an experience in the future. Anticipatory joy is the happiness we get right now from planning a future pleasure. Some people get through the winter by pouring over seed catalogues. I used to map out summer vacations, more than I would ever take.
Active engagement in planning a good time can bring nearly as much happiness as when the plans materialize, and sometimes more. It reduces stress and elevates mood. The snow will melt, evenings lengthen, daffodils bloom, vaccinations expand, infections continue to fall. It’s not too soon to plan forest hikes and outdoor gatherings. There is hope.
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.