The failings of friends, colleagues and partners can be deeply aggravating.
We look upon their faults and wonder again and again why they are the way they are. Why so slow? Why so unreliable? How can they be so bad at explaining things or telling an anecdote! Why can’t they face bad news straight on?
It’s at moments of particular agitation that we need to remember The Weakness of Strength Theory – this dictates that we should always strive to see people’s weaknesses as the inevitable downside of certain merits that drew us to them, and from which we will benefit at other points (even if none of these benefits are apparent right now).
We don’t think we hate cheap things – but we frequently behave as if we do.
The first meeting between Europeans and pineapples took place in November 1493, in a Carib village on the island of Guadaloupe. Pineapples proved extremely difficult to transport to Europe and very costly to cultivate. For a long time only royalty could actually afford to eat them. Then at the very end of the 19th century, production and transport costs plummeted and, unwittingly, transformed the psychology of pineapple-eating. It still tastes exactly the same. But now, the pineapple is one of the world’s least glamorous fruits.
The pineapple itself has not changed; only our attitude to it has. When we have to pay a lot for something nice, we appreciate it to the full. Yet as its price in the market falls, passion has a habit of fading away.
It might be useful to dwell on the prospect of death more than we are inclined to.
We’re scared to fail, scared to be alone with our own feelings, scared to eject certain people from our lives, scared to tell our partners who we really are, scared to take our dreams seriously.
From fear, we delay the lives we know we should be leading. A dark but useful solution to this delay – aligning our thoughts to something radically larger and scarier then our doubts and hesitations…the thought of death.
What is it that makes the present, especially the nicer moments of the present, so difficult to experience properly? And why, conversely, can so many events feel easier to enjoy, appreciate and perceive, when they are firmly over?
One benefit of the past is that it is a dramatically foreshortened edited version of the present.
Even the best days of our lives contain a range of dull and uncomfortable moments. But in memory, we lock on to the most consequential moments; and therefore construct sequences that feel a great deal more meaningful and interesting than the settings that generated them.