As I’ve mentioned many times, I love epigrams, aphorisms, paradoxes, koans, true rules, Secrets of Adulthood, proverbs, and so naturally I love the work of Oscar Wilde.
I find myself quoting him, and thinking about his observations, all the time.
There’s one line from his famous novel The Picture of Dorian Gray that I think about all the time. I find it very true, and also puzzling.
The character Harry observes, “There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.”
I’ve experienced this myself, and I’ve seen other people struggle with it.
You don’t really want that promotion, but you don’t want someone else to take that job. You don’t really want that boyfriend, but you know that someone else will snap him up the minute you break up with him. You don’t want to pass up an opportunity, and then see someone else take advantage of it.
The problem is, because of this phenomenon, we sometimes do things that we don’t want to do, just because we don’t want to see others do them. There are many things we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.
I think it’s very helpful to recognize this so that we can try to take it into account when we make our decisions. If it’s right for us to throw something away, we should, even if someone else would pick it up.