Several years ago I bought two 5-packs of reading glasses. There was a 1.75-diopter set for books, magazines, newspapers, and my laptop (when it’s in my lap), plus a 1.25-diopter set for the screens I look at when working in my Captain Kirk chair. They were cheap, and the idea was that they’d be an abundant resource. I could leave spectacles lying around in various places, there would always be a pair handy, no worries about losing them.
So of course I did lose them like crazy. At one point I bought another 5-pack but still, somehow, I’m down to a single 1.75 and a single 1.25. And I just realized it’s been that way for quite a while. Now that the resource is scarce, I value it more highly and take care to preserve it.
I’m sorely tempted to restock. It’s so easy! A couple of clicks and two more 5-packs will be here tomorrow. And they’re cheap, so what’s not to like?
For now, I’m resisting the temptation because I don’t like the effect such radical abundance has had on me. It’s ridiculous to lose 13 pairs of glasses in a couple of years. I can’t imagine how I’d explain that to my pre-Amazon self.
For now, I’m going to try to assign greater value to the glasses I do have, and treat them accordingly. And when I finally do lose them, I hope I’ll resist the one-click solution. I thought it was brilliant at the time, and part of me still does. But it just doesn’t feel good.
One thought on “The paradox of abundance”
John Lennon quoted Harry Nilsson as saying, “Everything is the opposite of what it is, isn’t it?”
I take your point! I hope there’s a possible world, a land flowing with milk and honey, in which abundance and respect and care can all dance together. Until that time, we have our pre-Amazon selves to rassle with, indeed.