Sunday Surgical Scrub: 7 August 2016

expectation anticipation art

“We need the sweet pain of anticipation to tell us we are really alive.” 

Albert Camus


TASK AT HAND: This week I’m thinking about a couple of concepts that tend to get incorrectly used interchangeably: anticipation and expectation. These are two concepts that frequently occupy my headspace because they have a strong potential to influence outcomes.

Anticipation is a fantastic moment that speaks to an aura of readiness. Much is possible in the moment of anticipation. It means you are getting ready, trying to comprehend, commencing an engagement with the road ahead. Anticipation is selfless. It does not expect anything. It possesses all potential for a future moment. There is no defined outcome in anticipation because all possibilities may exist in that sphere. In decision making and problem solving, anticipation can be critical to highlighting possible outcomes; some would argue “wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences” (Norman Cousins). Because anticipation does not define one expectation, you can consider all possibilities with an expansive vantage point.


waiting for santa

Think about yourself as a child, or think about your own children, waiting for an event. Anticipation is a seed that blooms into wonder because all is possible. Indeed, Andy Warhol tapped into this sentiment: “the idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting”. Anticipation will always have elements of surprise – an excitement that does not exist in most other forms of preparation. This keeps you engaged, tactful and ready.


Now let us meet expectation – an endless source of exasperation and annoyance. Expectation is an irritant that can ruin many an event. With expectation, there is the creation of a specific outcome you predict or hope will occur, opening the door to disappointment. If your experience is less than your expectation, you are left disappointed. “Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation” (Charlotte Bronte). So, the best remedy is, to discard these expectations.

If you start with preconceived notions, for any encounter or challenge, you’re coming in with expectations that essentially define certain parameters of your experience, and consequently, degrade your experience. Avoid this! “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed” (Alexander Pope). Change this behavior and assume the purity of anticipation. The examples are few – unfortunately – where your experience goes beyond your expectations so avoid the expectations that build resentment and create dissatisfaction.

How do we apply this? Anticipate more and expect nothing! Anticipate. Be ready. Wonder at the possibilities.  Anticipate the challenge. Try to focus on a current challenge and anticipate the possibilities and consequences. Let us not expect some single quanta from any experience. Some will say, “well, you’re just setting really low expectations.” No, I’m taking it one step further. I’m setting no expectations. I want the purity of the challenge that leaves me with wonderment from my subsequent experience.

MEDICINE & MACULA: This week, for Medicine & Macula, I want to highlight our recently published paper on Zika-related maculopathy. We show posterior segment changes in a confirmed case of Zika in the hope of adding further knowledge to the growing spectrum of Zika-related pathology.

zika fa

Thank you Ophthalmology for publishing our case! Check out the study here.

zika citation


GRATIS: “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”― Bruce Lee


My best to you,

David Almeida

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