Word for the Day
Today’s Word: Dwell
Just last week I found something on Ebay which I very much wanted to buy. It was a used Badge a Minit button maker which sells for $400 new. Since the company will service these machines for free a used one is as good as a new one. The bid sat at $70 and I would have paid $200 without hesitation. I knew I could sell it again as this one was poorly advertised (the owner didn’t know what he had).
I made a mental note of when the bidding would be done (about 5:00 pm the next day) and waited to put in my overall bid. I figured that if I put it in too early I would pay more than if I did just a few minutes before the bidding ended.
You know the problem, don’t you? It’s that “mental note” I made. I didn’t use permanent ink. Just a few minutes after the bidding finished I thought about it. The machine sold for $90. I was frustrated, enough so that I had trouble concentrating on other things that night. I “dwelled” on the mistake.
Yes, I know what you might be thinking: “It’s just a machine. There’s nothing you can do about it. Forget about it.” Yes, I know. But let’s be fair. Can you think of a time you did or didn’t do something? Perhaps it was words you meant to say or ones you regret. Perhaps you missed a great concert or game or forgot some other thing. Can you remember the frustration? What would you think if my first words were to you, “Just forget about it”?
Of course we should forget about these things. But many of us relive them. If only I’d put in the bid earlier. If only I’d put an alarm on my phone. We go over these events in our mind as if we can change them or somehow make them different. Even over a button machine, we get distracted.
Should it be any surprise to us that people have great trouble overcoming the regrets of life in bigger matters? Of course, we can really help them by pointing out, “You can’t do anything about it. She died. You got sick. He left. Just forget it.” No, that doesn’t help.
We humans are really rather smart. I’m even slightly smart. I knew my frustration wasn’t worth it. I knew I couldn’t change my bid. I knew what was past was past and could not be altered. So it wouldn’t be very helpful for someone to point that out. What did I need? And what do those with bigger troubles need?
Patience. I suppose my spouse is the one who must endure this the most. She has learned that usually I will get through it. And most people will work through struggles when they have people around who will cut them some slack.
A safe place to vent. Sometimes voicing the frustration in a safe place (safe for me and for others) really does help. One of the early ways I fell in love with my wife was the way she listened to me after my dad died suddenly. She didn’t try to fix me or give me advice. She listened.
Wisdom to draw the line. Yes, there does come a time to go back to life and not allow our small or big regrets to dominate. I know that. But sometimes a friend needs to remind me, doing so kindly as a person who is similarly faulted at times.
Something to do. I am a championship “dweller.” That is, I can think and think about one thing. One solution is to do something. Perhaps it is something we can do about the regret (I’m watching Ebay for the next opportunity). Perhaps it is something we enjoy (nothing fixes my life like playing tennis or watching “Castle” with my wife). But doing clears out some faulty thinking.
Well, I feel better. My missed bid gave me something to write about and now it is (mostly) off my mind. I better go check Ebay.