Regret and the “What If”

One of Bea’s blog posts got me thinking– the universal human fear of not having something that you need/want when you need it. Sometimes it’s a serious issue, other times, it’s a pretty frivolous anxiety especially if scarcity isn’t actually a problem.

“What if I want to watch X movie and don’t have it?” It’s not a case of “I can definitely see myself rewatching this movie”, it’s “I will keep the thing because it brings me comfort to know that it’s in my possession, whether or not I will actually use it”.

Asprin? Earthquake kit? Knee brace in case you dislocate -again-? A can of chicken soup in case you get sick? All good reasons for that feeling. All good reasons to keep stuff around that you don’t use on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Some stuff you hope to never use. But that set of champagne flutes that you’ve never used because you hate having parties at your house? Those 3 extra frying pans that won’t even fit in the kitchen cupboards? The unopened Asian peanut salad dressing you bought 3 years ago? Not really great things to hold onto.

Makes me look back and try think about, out of all of the possessions I’ve lost, given away, or ruined, which ones do I regret not keeping (or taking better care of)? I look around me and know for SURE that I would miss most of this if it were all suddenly gone tomorrow. But looking back, there are literally only two things I’ve ever owned that I no longer have and miss. Two. Out of the countless clothes, toys, nick-knacks, memorabilia, specialty foodstuffs, electronics, and so on. One of them is a wool sweater that got accidentally thrown in the dryer, and the other… you know, I don’t even remember the second thing now. Guess I don’t miss it all that much!

So what does that tell me? I guess, in reality, the individual objects I feel are indispensable now aren’t so much. And the things I thought I missed–the SNES that my stepmother sold without my permission, the prized action figure whose head was lost thanks to a bully, the DVD cases ruined by a leaky roof, the very replaceable book I left on the plane–cause me pain and frustration for different reasons than from the loss itself.

This is something I will try to remember going forward.