If they'd-a asked me, I coulda told 'em.
I totally empathize with Jane Porter's toilet brush purchase experience. The burden of making the "right" selection, in an apparently infinite universe of selections, is half the problem.
The other half is what to do with everything that's already accumulated? I'm increasingly driven to lighten the load. Living in the moment, in the midst of accumulation and abundance, is hard. Being open to evolving who I am and what defines 'me' in the shadow of experience and memory that lengthens with every day, every year of life, is another challenge.
"Sunk Cost Fallacy"
There's this pair of expensive, ultra-luxury brand shoes that lived in my closet for more than twenty years. Not hyper-trendy, they were more 'classic' style, the kind that never goes out of fashion, really. Full retail, I could never have afforded them. But I invested hours in shopping at liquidators and discount surplus shops and I found these for a price that was high (for me) but just barely affordable. I was so thrilled.
I believe I wore those shoes, over the years I gave them closet space, a grand total of a dozen times. They fit but didn't feel all that great and the fastenings were nuisance.
But they were worth a lot, right? And I'd put effort into obtaining them! I spent significant (for me) money on them!
That's called "sunk costs."
So I kept sinking-- twenty years of closet space, packing and unpacking them for three moves, and plenty of vague regret and unease and self-flagellation about how I "should" wear them more or else I "should" get rid of them, into them, too.
About the only mistake I didn't make was the "I'd wear them more if I bought some outfits to highlight them" one, but I thought about it, for sure.
"Conscience Versus Freedom"
Ten or a dozen years along, I thought about getting rid of those shoes. They'd hardly been worn, after all. They were valuable! I could put them in a consignment shop, maybe. Or else find one of those charities that helps women trying to get jobs put together a business wardrobe, except they weren't exactly job interview shoes. But... they shouldn't just be thrown away. I'd feel terribly guilty about that.
But I was too busy to research good charities, I never seemed to coordinate getting things to the consignment shop, and there they were, needing dusting and stashing and unstashing every time I swapped out the shoe rack as the seasons changed.
I'm not the kind of person who needlessly adds to landfills in a world already over-burdened with waste. I have a conscience. I recycle. I re-use. I try not to contribute to the immoral consumer throw-away planned obsolescence madness of our sick culture. So I spent another five, six, seven, ten years packing and unpacking those shoes, telling myself I really should make time to deal with them "properly," just not now.
I cannot tell a lie.
I am a terrible person.
One day I put those shoes in the dumpster.
And I felt the most amazing burst of ephoric release, a guilty, selfish delight in all that dreadful act accomplished for me.
Among the things I tend to accumulate are "mementoes." Most are ephemera, like photos, event programs, paper or electronic clippings, and so on. But almost anything can be a memento. My 1993 Duster is a memento, because it was a gift from my now-deceased stepfather. But I keep it because hey, it RUNS! It's paid for! It's low-maintenance! So what if it's earned its title of "The Shockless Wonder" and it looks like a victim of advanced leprosy.
And then there was The Table. We bought it used when we first got married. Ethan Allen, oval, two leaves, four chairs, with the leaves in it would seat eight or even ten at a squeeze. A memento of the sweet, funny landlady who sold it to us, of those early days together, of that one Thanksgiving where everyone came and we used the good china (last time, I think) and the turkey worked and our friends brought that amazing apple cranberry pie...
But since we donated it to a homeless shelter and replaced it with a much smaller table, you know what? I still have those memories. I can still access them, even though I never see the good china, the table is gone, and I haven't even ordered apple cranberry pie in a restaurant for years.
The memories I want, the memories I need, they will be with me when I need them. And my elders tell me that the older you get, the more those memories become available to you. Way more available than where you left the shopping list for this morning or even what was on the shopping list.
"'Wrong' Choices Are Right Choices"
Just as the Sunk Costs Fallacy is responsible for way too much accumulation, the "Lost Opportunities Fallacy" is responsible for an awful lot of paralysis, self-doubt, anxiety and depression when it comes to dealing with abundance.
It's part of why I hate shopping so deeply. I have very little awareness of what looks good on me, or what I look good in, so I tend to simply buy colors I like, and items that fit with what I already have (so I don't have to buy something to go with it). Purchase criteria include things like fiber content, quality of construction, and whether it was likely manufactured by grotesquely exploited seven-year-olds.
That tends to narrow things down pretty well. Even so, when I find myself with too much choice, the anxiety rises in my jerkbrain: "Am I gonna hate myself for buying the blue one instead of the black one? Am I gonna get home and wish I'd gotten the other neckline?"
This is the point at which I whip out the All-Purpose Swiss Army Knife of anti-anxiety scripts: Step Three.
I am in charge of everything I choose, I am responsible for each choice I make. But I'm *not* in charge of second-order outcomes thereof, and I have no way of knowing what the long-term ripples from those choices are likely to be. If nothing else, I at least learn something from a choice I regret. And sometimes, that becomes a gift of much greater value than the imagined benefits of having made a different choice.
If I'm really going to try and live in this moment, now, I have to relegate "lost opportunity" to the toxic indulgences list. There's a reason I make this choice, now. I think I know what it is, but it often turns out to be just right for a completely different reason.
Good enough can be more than good enough.