[ 3 min read ]
On Wednesday I spent the whole day on a movie set in one of the finest hotels in this country. Solid 12 hours during which I was used twice (whole 20-30 minutes) and the rest of this time I was on standby and could do whatever I wanted except leave the set. I could write for example, but technically it was not possible as I didn’t take my laptop with me.
I could beat myself up for not having planned this day prudently enough. I could have foreseen that in such hotel there will be a place were I could sit down, open my laptop and write. That’s what most people would do, I guess — they would beat themselves up for it. Maybe they would even conclude that they are total failures or something.
The thing is that I don’t know if it was a mistake.
What if I had taken my laptop, worked on it and someone accidentaly spilled coffee on it? If I were a complete lunatic indulging in a wishful thinking all the time and assumed nothing bad could have happened on that particular day to my laptop on the set (as most of us certainly would) then of course I would view it as a mistake.
If, on the other hand, I (unlike the vast majority of us) assumed that something bad could have happened to my laptop, because shit happens all the time and it happens at random and it’s only a matter of whom it happens to on a given day, and we never know when it will happen to us, then I would be much more hesitant to call it a mistake.
Another example. A woman I know once complained that the private elementary school which she had chosen for her child (wanting to be the best parent one could imagine, wanting to give him the finest education and putting him in the “right environment” in order to secure a better future for him) was not as good as she thought it would be and thus she concluded that moving him to this school was a mistake. She obviously thought that the previous school was a better place for her son and that she (and her husband) shouldn’t have moved him from that school.
Now, on a surface what she did might seem reasonable. A legitimate regret. A real reason to beat yourself up for being so stupid. Perhaps because on a surface all our regrets seem reasonable. They stop being reasonable when we start to think about them for real. When we ponder them. When we stop being delusional about the alternative scenario and when we start to factor in that alternative shit could have happened.
Her son could have stayed in this previous (Catholic) school and things could have gone awry in that school too. He could have been sexually abused, or beaten, or bullied, or even killed, or had a teacher who hated him, or was a crazy human being. Why not? Who can give her a guarantee that such things would definitely not have happened in that school?
She obviously concluded that keeping her son in the previous school could have only been good, beneficial for her son. Certainly better than moving him to this other school which she thought (erroneously) would be a better place for a person like her son. She didn’t assume that something bad could have happened to her son in this previous school had she kept him there. Why assume it? What could have happened?
It’s because she, like the vast majority of us, is a complete lunatic indulging in a wishful thinking all the time and assuming nothing bad could have happened had she done B instead of A. She, like the vast majority of us, never stopped to wonder why the alternative scenarios which she creates over and over in her head (and which then become the basis of her many regrets) are always advantageous, flawless, why the alternative scenarios always tell a story of some magical place where shit never happens.