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November 30, 2009

The permanent loss of something is awful. Dead. Amputated. Blinded. What about digging a dinosaur bone out of the ground? It can never be replaced, nobody else will ever be able to dig it up, so much lost as the dirt is brushed away. The tragedy of the hoarder: what conceivable use could this obscure trinket be? None, except for the value it might gain from the unknowable.

Free will and choice causes loss. Every decision hews off a chunk of the infinite future. For a hoarder the remaining infinity is not enough. “Girls can do anything”: any one thing, not everything. I talk to someone for an extra five minutes and somebody leaves before I am introduced and I never see them again. I practice saxophone for an hour and don’t get any better at singing. I read a novel and miss out on the one that was next on my list when I died.

Refusing to choose does not help the choice hoarder, and so he tries to choose the worst of his future stash to discard. If he makes a decision that results in good, he does not regret it. His past regrets may fade when other choices take him to a point of repose or exaltation. After all, what is there other than the current point? When he gets to the end of his life can the finite pleasures of his life make up for infinite missed possibilities? Or does he just finally relax, relieved that there are no more choices to make?

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