Profit-Loss Margin

Dear J-

One of the things you learn is how to deal with disappointment in a mature way which I’m still struggling with in a non-judgmental fashion. Disappointment comes from envy and you know what that’s the root of, don’t you? I find myself looking for various deals and being disappointed not because I didn’t get it but because someone else did, which is the envy part of it. Did I particularly need or want that thing? That’s not the point; the identification of the deal, that’s not enough to be counting coup and declaring victory, apparently. The idea that someone else might be having and enjoying it is enough to make me squirm (look at how much I’ve kicked myself after finding bits and pieces of a Neo-Geo AES in a thrift store, but not the system).

The point? The point is not that this is so terrible and I need to change my ways before I collapse in a puddle of goo and self-loathing. If I recognize the tendency, the next time it might happen I’ll know better, right? At least I’ll understand why I’m sitting there kicking myself in regret. If I understand that then I’ll understand what to do instead. Words have power and the more I start to believe the simple interrogative — well, what was I planning to do with that anyway? — or recognizing that anything mass-produced will have more than one copy, and another one will come up for sale eventually, possibly at a better deal — that means I’ll be a much healthier, money-wise person.

Meanwhile … is it worse to know about these things and not act on them, or is it worse to be blissfully oblivious of the stupendous deals that await? There are things you need and things you want; I should remember just how my discretionary spending is arranged to be biased towards one or the other, and if I can bring it down to need-based — at this point it’s clear I have just about anything I could possibly want — then I know I’ve won. It’s a struggle. Words matter. Mantras help. If you consider that I might have spent the time in the evenings more fruitfully, possibly paying attention to the kids … yeah, there’s not a lot of joy in counting up the lost hours.

Mike

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