One of my favorite brit-coms, Keeping Up Appearances, has a by-now classic episode where Richard forgets Hyacinth's birthday and covers by telling her he's having an alarm system installed to protect her hand-painted china and knick-knacks. Hyacinth swoons in pleasure. At last, the world will know that she is a person of importance. "Elizabeth," she proclaims to her neighbor. "We're going to be alarmed!"
Lovely double entendre.
Anticipation and worry go hand in hand. Does he like me? Will that present contain the single most important thing on the wish list? Will a long-awaited job promotion (and raise) happen this year? Will my child get into the college he wants? Will there be a cure? Will she win?
When we really, really, really want something, our desire can be all-consuming. Then, if we attain that desire, we're worried that it won't be what we expected, or that we'll lose it, or that it won't last.
Maybe that's why there are so many platitudes and sermons about wishes for fishes and sour grapes and you don't always get what you want and be careful what you ask for.
Take college. On one hand, we're delighted that our son has risen to the ranks of high school seniors, a loooooonnnnng school odyssey that culminates in the almighty college acceptance letter (oh, we do hope). On the other hand, we worry about the costs, the belief that there isn't an alarm clock in the world he can hear, and the extraordinary challenges he will face in handling his medical disabilities without us around.
We're going to be alarmed.