02.01.06

Optimism vs. pessimism

Posted in Married life at 5:39 pm by ducky

Yesterday, I whined about how my space keeps shrinking. In reality, shrinking the amount of space that I live in isn’t inherently bad. In fact, I sort of liked moving in to the 412 square feet at Green College.

The thing that really disturbs me is clutter — having too much stuff for the space. My beloved husband (who I love dearly!) and I have different attitudes towards stuff. He’s an optimist; I’m a pessimist.

When I see a newspaper article that might be interesting but that I don’t have time to deal with right now, I figure that there will never come a day in the future when I will have the liberty to deal with it, and it probably isn’t that interesting.

Not only that, I am sure that the next time I move, I will have to carry every box by hand myself up seventeen flights of stairs on the hottest day of the year in a place with flocks of angry mosquitoes accompanying me. (And the mosquitoes probably have malaria, to boot.)

That article would be just one more thing to move, so I throw it out.

My beloved husband (who I love dearly!) is an optimist. In my mental model of the universe, he’s sure that some day he will be languidly reposing by the pool, with nary a care in the world except how to best entertain himself. He’s certain that that article, that particular article, will be absolutely riveting, funny, and so profound that it will change his life.

Imagining how much pleasure the article will bring him on that far-off day, he cannot bear to throw the article away today.

(I’m not completely sure how his life could be any improved from his vision of lying languidly by the pool, but in my mental model, it’s his fantasy, and so doesn’t need to make sense to me in my mental model.)

And because my beloved husband (who I love dearly!) does so many nice things for me on such a regular basis, I don’t just throw out all the stupid newspaper article when he isn’t looking, even though

  • he won’t ever lounge by the pool for so long that he’ll run out of reading material
  • even if he did, he wouldn’t remember that this newspaper article ever existed
  • and even if he did, the article is boring enough that he would be disappointed by it

Because, you see, I am enough of a pessimist to believe that he would someday find out that I’d been throwing out his newspaper articles, and divorce me in a fit of rage.

Sigh. Jim wins.

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