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Now as these particular articles are aimed at the ‘silver surfer generation’ of which I am well and truly a part, I would like to make two points summarising where it’s going. Number one, excitement is not just for the young; the day you cease being excited by various things, is the day you are either dead or in a sadly comatose state. Secondly, as I get older and start watching this particular expression in my life,  I would suggest that when you step back from the hurly burly of life, you have greater opportunity to appreciate it – and feel excited by it. I sometimes think that affluence also kills off the ability to experience excitement sometimes.

Let me give you an example of this last thing. Over the new year we had the joy of staying with family (I referred to that in a previous article I believe) who live on an island south of Cuba where the occupants from the West tend to be affluent professionals and their families. On New Year’s Eve,  various big commercial organisations on the island put on firework displays, (not as good as back in London on that night but then I think the London display is arguably the best in the world,) and so we trooped along as a family to a harbour where there is a big open area in front of cafes and restaurants and where crowds had gathered to watch the display.


The first thing I noticed was that the crowds tended to gather in groups, obviously chatting to friends, and I couldn’t help feeling that the expectation of the display to come was pretty low, so I led our little crowd up to the front of the esplanade where we had the best view of what followed. The fireworks were good! As I led our family, my wife and I (and then the grandchildren and eventually parents) ooohed and aaahed for ten minutes. We were excited! These fireworks were good, it was an amazing display, but very few of this affluent crowd showed any sign of excitement. I pondered over this for some while and discussed it with my fairly affluent son. We both concluded that affluence takes away the wonder.

One morning we were taken for a three-hour breakfast in a top hotel, on a balcony overlooking the tropical paradise and wonderful beaches. I’m not too sure how many other people on that balcony had such “strong feelings of happiness and enthusiasm” as I and my wife experienced as we sat there in the semi-shade in thirty degrees with a gentle breeze. Perhaps they have it all the time  and so take it for granted. How sad!

Excitement, of course, doesn’t last and it would be foolish to expect it to. Strong feelings of happiness and enthusiasm - and I still don’t like that word because it doesn’t seem altruistic enough somehow. There is something good about human nature that get excited over something and it’s not mere ‘enthusiasm’ – although I have to confess that looking it up and seeing, “intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval,” I can go with the first four words even if I think that the latter three don’t do justice to it. Interest downplays it, approval adds an unnecessary moral shadow over it.

Watch a child opening Christmas or birthday presents – pure excitement! In that context the word anticipation explains something of the excitement. It’s the same feeling that I and my wife feel as we look out of the windows in the departure lounge observing the 747 we’re about to enter and experience the wonder of what follows, or the feeling you might have at the start of a cruise as the band pipes up on the aft-deck to make a thing of the departure. If you are a businessman who spends his life jetting around the globe, no doubt that excitement has given way to tedium – how many of the rest of us get excited by getting on a bus?  In the past when I have been privileged to travel part of the globe, although the actual flying lost its wonder, there was still a sense of excitement at what I would find at the other end. There are some real killjoys over ‘excitement’ though, for example Edmund Burke said, “It is our ignorance of things that causes all our admiration and chiefly excites our passions.” What a misery!  (But then he was both a philosopher and an MP – say no more!). I prefer the Oxford professor who said, “The more I find out how this world works, the more excited I become.”


But the sad thing about living in the twenty-first century in the West, (which is what I was trying to say earlier,) is that because we have so much and have access to so many varied experiences, we lose a sense of wonder. If we had a time machine and could transport someone from say a hundred and fifty years ago into the present, they would be almost overwhelmed by the world of technology and computers that we have – not to mention the access to running water and electricity and cars! Show them pictures of outer space, of the earth from outer space, and they will be left gasping.  After a week of acclimatising, I suspect they would still look at our flat-screen TVs, or our micro-waves, or even our ‘Alexas’, and marvel. Show them a computer and offer to buy them any book from the hundreds of thousands available on Amazon, and it will keep on.  Is that excitement? Well I suspect after the initial shocks ‘strong feelings of happiness and enthusiasm’ might describe quite well the experience of things we now take for granted.

If I’m  right in that paragraph above, then excitement isn’t necessarily linked to anticipation, although it often is. When my wife, who is an avid garden-bird watcher, comes running in excitedly and gasps out, “I’ve just seen a lessor spotted green woozle-watzit down the garden,”  that is the epitome of excitement! It may be mixed with an anticipation of seeing it again, but she will be just as excited if it was a one-off sighting. And, OK, I admit to getting excited when the first daffodil opened up and the first snowdrops appeared as if to declare, ‘winter won’t be here much longer’. I get excited when a robin decides to adopt me as a human friend and turns up the moment I go outside. Yes, I know he’s just waiting for me to take up a spade and reveal some food for him but, hey, you’re not going to quash my excitement at the presence of this little friend. I’m sure for many, these examples leave you cold but, hey, who is the richer? Is it the one for whom small things still bring joy and excitement, or the one who feels jaded by the abundance of possessions and the tedium of life?

Excitement has to be a cousin of ‘appreciation’ because that is the motivation or cause, if you like, of some of the things I’ve just been using as examples. Excitement accompanies changes in life. I was excited after eye surgery and I was able to see without glasses for the first time since I was eleven! That was excitement! Excitement comes when we are told that a loved one has just won an important job, or an engagement is announced, or the arrival of a new baby when it’s in your own family – not so much when other grandparents show you their new grandchild on their phone,(Oh come on, it’s just a baby isn’t it!)  But then I realise you can be excited when remembering good times and although others may still be excited by the wonderful time they’ve recently had on holiday in India (as they show you their multitude of pictures on their phone), the fact that you were not there experiencing all their joys, means it is unrealistic to expect others to share your excitement.

If you are a bird watcher, you’ll get excited at spotting the lesser-spotted whatever. If you’re a stamp collector, you’ll get excited when a very rare penny-green comes your way. If you go to the Antiques Road Show with a piece of junk that has simply collected dust in the loft for forty years and they tell you it is worth twenty thousand pounds, you will be excited! Laughter is an emotion that expresses pleasure, an emotion we take for granted, but I wonder if we have ever thought much about this strange word, ‘excitement’ and realised that it is yet another of the wonders of being a human being and, as I said at the beginning, it is not only prerogative of the young. Let’s hang on to this experience that pulls together all these words we’ve been using – anticipation, expectancy, appreciation, enjoyment, pleasure and gratitude, that hang around as a gang with their leader, ‘excitement’!  As always, let’s see if we can find some quotes, meaningful, humourous or even mundane that shine more light on excitement.

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities”. ― Gloria Steinem

“I sat down and tried to rest. I could not; though I had been on foot all day, I could not now repose an instant; I was too much excited. A phase of my life was closing tonight, a new one opening tomorrow: impossible to slumber in the interval; I must watch feverishly while the change was being accomplished.” 
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

“It was exciting to be off on a journey she had looked forward to for months. Oddly, the billowing diesel fumes of the airport did not smell like suffocating effluence, it assumed a peculiar pungent scent that morning, like the beginning of a new adventure, if an adventure could exude a fragrance.” 
E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly,

“Choose thoughts that give you the emotions of being alive and excited about life.” 
Bryant McGill, Simple Reminders: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life

Think excitement, talk excitement, act out excitement, and you are bound to become an excited person. Life will take on a new nest, deeper interest and greater meaning. You can think, talk and act yourself into dullness or into monotony or into unhappiness. By the same process you can build up inspiration, excitement and surging depth of joy.

Norman Vincent Peale


Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place, but there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around.

E. L. Konigsburg

A child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement.

Rachel Carson

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