Scenic lookouts and recipes for living

You’re told that a scenic outlook up ahead is exquisitely beautiful. Well-worth the time, you’ve been assured by phone. You trust this friend and are willing to go along with his recommendation. So, you and your traveling companion look ahead, therefore, with eager anticipation that this exquisitely beautiful outlook will provide some respite from your long travels. Up ahead, you see the sign, stop the car, and get out.

Immediately, you’re both disappointed. You expected something exquisitely beautiful and the scene before you is something less.

What is it about the very structure of expectation that can only lead to disappointment, dullness (oh, this is rather nice), or a sense of relief? And why is it that it is only when you were not expecting something to occur and it does that it can enliven you, awaken your senses, causing you to take notice, feel wonder, and appreciate something deeply? (I am thinking again of the structure of surprise.)

Knowing this, one had better, so to speak, throw away all travel guides as well as all step-by-step recipes for living.

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