26Paint everywhere, a lost glove, and regret

Writing in the 1940’s, Danish scientist Piet Hine wrote a beautiful poem about loss:

Losing one glove
is certainly painful,
but nothing
compared to the pain,
of losing one,
throwing away the other,
and finding
the first one again.

This is a poem about regret. At the moment you lose one glove, you are essentially out of a pair of gloves. If you toss the other one out and then subsequently find the one you lost, it is just somehow worse – even though it shouldn’t be.

In a similar vein, a psychologist I once heard on a TEDtalk (I can’t remember which!) found the same thing to be true in a study on monetary loss. For example, let’s say you go to a concert with forty dollars in your pocket. If when you arrive at the concert hall, and you find that you’ve lost half of that money, or twenty dollars – you’ll still spend $20 on a ticket.

On the other hand, let’s say you go to the concert hall with a twenty-dollar bill in your wallet and a twenty-dollar concert ticket in your pocket and on the way you lose the concert ticket. You probably wouldn’t spend your remaining twenty dollars to replace the thing you already had.

That makes sense and, of course, it doesn’t.
This is part of the fun (and the annoyance) of being human.

Here’s a more personal example of how this played out in my life recently. My wife Jane and I were painting some grates for our house, and I went out with the car to run errands. As I was pulling the car back in, I drove over a small pot of paint, exploding paint all over. It took about an hour-and-a-half to clean up all the grates, the car and the floor. I had to undo all the damage that I had done. Errgh!

Here is a Buddhist story
A monk asked Chao-chou, “I have just entered the monastery: please give me some guidance.”
Chao-chou said, “Have you eaten your rice gruel?”
The monk said,”Yes, I’ve eaten.”
Chao-chou said, “Then go wash your bowl.”

We will lose time and objects. It is inevitable.
What are we supposed to do when those annoyances happen?

This week’s spiritual-religious advice:
deal with it.

With love,


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