Opportunity Cost & Overwhelm

I have frequently had the experience of being somewhere interesting, but mysteriously not being able to enjoy myself.

As an example, I will use the fêtes in Bayonne, in southwest France. It's a big party, with lots of stuff going on and more than 100,000 people in the street. It's a little like Mardi Gras.

During these fêtes, there are hundreds of private parties spilling into the streets, there are bands (rock and brass or both) playing in the streets, there are interesting people to talk to, and more.

What tends to happen to me is that I get there, and it's obviously a great occasion. There are inifinite possibilities, but somehow I find myself being glum and not getting into the vibe.

The reason is that there is so much cool stuff going on that I am eternally convinced that something better is happening somewhere else. The opportunity cost of doing ANYTHING AT ALL is too high, and so I slump into a sort of zombie-like trance where I can't commit to enjoying the moment.

Here's a different example. I remember from the 70's a situation where kids would have five minutes to take whatever they wanted from a toy store. I remember thinking that it would be a nightmare, because whatever you could take, you would regret not having taken something else.

Again, the opportunity cost of acting is so high that I would have become paralyzed.

Clearly, everyone doesn't have the same relationship to these situations. During the fêtes, plenty of people are content to hang out at one street corner for five straight days. The kids who got to pillage the toy store seemed pretty happy.

My personal opportunity cost is frequently so high that it prevents me from choosing anything at all. Why is that? I believe that it comes from a childhood experience of a particular kind of poverty, where there were no second chances.

The minute I think "okay, I'm going to start playing guitar," I start hearing voices saying "but you really wanted to draw, and it's more important."

The minute I start drawing, I hear voices saying "you're going to play in a concert Wednesday, and you'd be better off practicing guitar."

This sort of opportunity-cost paralysis comes from an articial belief that there is not enough time to do everything.

A basic lack of faith in "things will work out."
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