Suffering itself does not less afflict the senses than the anticipation of suffering.
It is not the variegated colors, the cheerful sounds, and the warm breezes which enliven us so much in spring; it is the quiet prophetic spirit of endless hope, a presentiment of many happy days, the anticipation of higher everlasting blossoms and fruits, and the secret sympathy with the world that is developing itself.
Many live in dread of what is coming. Why should we? The unknown puts adventure into life. It gives us something to sharpen our souls on. The unexpected around the corner gives a sense of anticipation and surprise. Thank God for the unknown future. If we saw all good things which are coming to us, we would sit down and denigrate. If we saw all the evil things, we would be paralyzed. How merciful is God is to lift the curtain on today; and as we get strength today to meet tomorrow, then to lift the curtain on the morrow. He is a considerate God.
Fear is the anticipation and expectation of evil or pain, as contrasted with hope which is the anticipation of good. Awe, on the other hand, is the sense of wonder and humility inspired by the sublime or felt in the presence of mystery. Fear is “a surrender of the succors which reason offers,” awe is the acquisition of insights which the world holds in store for us. Awe, unlike fear, does not make us shrink from the awe-inspiring object, but, on the contrary, draws us near to it. That is why awe is compatible with both love and joy.
By anticipation we suffer misery and enjoy happiness before they are in being. We can set the sun and stars forward, or lose sight of them by wandering into those retired parts of eternity when the heavens and earth shall be no more.
For all the psychological and physiological conditions which test integrity - fear, desire, hunger, fatigue, disaffection, anger, pain - have little reality in memory or anticipation but rather exist for the most part in the narrow immediacy of the present.
Our minds are so constructed that we can keep the attention fixed on a particular object until we have, as it were, looked all around it; and the mind that possesses this faculty in the highest degree of perfection will take cognizance of relations of which another mind has no perception. It is this, much more than any difference in the abstract power of reasoning, which constitutes the vast difference between the minds of different individuals. This is the history alike of the poetic genius and of the genius of discovery in science. “I keep the subject,” said Sir Isaac Newton, “constantly before me, and wait until the dawnings open by little and little into a full light.” It was thus that after long meditation he was led to the invention of fluxions, and to the anticipation of the modern discovery of the combustibility of the diamond. It was thus that Harvey discovered the circulation of the blood, and that those views were suggested by Davy which laid the foundation of that grand series of experimental researches which terminated in the decomposition of the earths and alkalies.
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Fear is the anticipation of evil or pain, as contrasted with hope which is the anticipation of good. Awe, on the other hand, is the sense of wonder and humility inspired by the sublime or felt in the presence of mystery. Fear is “a surrender of the succors which reason offers”; awe is the acquisition of insights which the world holds in store for us. Awe, unlike fear, does not make us shrink from the awe-inspiring object, but, on the contrary, draws us near to it. This is why awe is compatible with both love and joy.
When I was a child, I often used to lie awake at night, in fearful anticipation of some unpleasant event the following day, such as a visit to the dentist, and wish I could press some sort of button that would have the effect of instantly transporting me twenty-four hours into the future. The following night, I would wonder whether that magic button was in fact real, and that the trick had indeed worked. After all, it was twenty-four hours later, and though I could remember the visit to the dentist, it was, at that time, only a memory of an experience, not an experience.
Every man has in himself a continent of undiscovered character. Happy is he who acts the Columbus to his own soul.