A build-up and a breakdown

I decided to title this post with words suitably dramatic, the reason being that today I am refraining from writing my usual rational posts for something more emotional (ring the alarm bells) and arguably cynical – my critique for art, design and communications gushing into a caffeine-spurred analysis of my own life and within it the ‘denied expectations’. It starts with the Little Mermaid.

I visited Copenhagen in August of last year. It was a city that I had always wanted to visit (its inner-city theme park being a major memorable factor to my 8 year-old self) and it did not fail to disappoint except for one thing – the statue in homage to Hans Christian Andersen in the city’s harbour. The Little Mermaid is Copenhagen’s definitive tourist hot-spot, a place supposedly unmissable on a visit to the city and an image crystallised in thousands of postcards. I was excited and intrigued by prospect of seeing this fairytale landmark. I took twelve photos trying to get the best angle, but left disappointed – the statue was small and unimposing, the crowds surrounding it making me feel like I was at Disneyland Paris, elbows out, trying to get Mickey Mouse’s autograph. The build-up had been greater than the event itself, my ‘breakdown’ was matching my high expectations of the statue to my disconcerting experience, and this is the underlining theme of this post – very often it is the build-up to an event that we end up treasuring rather than the event itself. Take these further examples –

1) Holidays. Anticipating a few days off work can be a greater feeling than the time off itself – when it rains non-stop and you eventually countdown the days until you are back in the office, stretches of work ahead of you. The reality of how little you have achieved in your holiday only recognised with hindsight.

2) Chocolate at Easter. Why does chocolate at Easter never taste as good as any other time of the year? The build up to this essentially 3 day unlimitless sugar and cocoa binge outweighs the continuous Mini Egg snacking and progressive piling on of the pounds.

3) The ‘one’. Thus far, the chase has given me infinitely more satisfaction than the catch. The same can be said of Facebook descriptions/’aliases’.

4) The pay-day shopping spree. You wait for it, decide what to buy pre-shopping event (very important) and then very rarely wear that dress, dangerously high pair of heels or white jacket for fear of ruining them, or hurting you/your reputation.

5) Food. Although not always the case, waiting for food generally has that heightened sense of anticipation – it smells so good, the starter sounded delicious, she is such a good cook… often these expectations are let down by the dish itself. Somehow being hungry and about to eat can be a more enjoyable sensation than the chewing, munching and swallowing. The same can be said for cocktails and wine – those hints of citrus or concoctions of exotic spirits rarely go down as well as the wine and cocktail list itself. Their descriptions are an art.

As such, I can really only end on a positive note – my bashing of my favourite pastimes or life apparently presenting me as the 21st century cynic and pessimist. However, my ultimate intention for this post was to appreciate the ‘build-up’ – those all important moments where you envisage something occuring, anticipate an event and know that, just sometimes, you may end up surprised. When the event exceeds expectations that is when you know that you will remember it.


3 responses to “A build-up and a breakdown

    • I always was envious of the Little Mermaid (I love snorkelling as a result) but my favourite Disney film, for its music alone, is the Jungle Book; followed closely by Beauty and the Beast and Dumbo (although that makes me cry!).

  1. Pingback: As cool as Klein | Marzipan and Marmite·

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