Saturday, April 16, 2005

I had an instructive dream last week.

I dreamt I managed a large dollar store in a strip mall. It was near Christmas; snow was falling outside. Business was good, the employees were busy but happy, and the customers seemed to be in good spirits.

Then I heard the buzz of the alarm. I swiveled my head to see a middle-aged woman hurrying out the doors, clutching something to her chest. Everyone carried on with their business; it was just another petty thief, not worth pursuing. Being the manager, I decided to stop her, so I left the store.

It was crowded outside, and it took me a minute to find the woman and confront her through the thick falling snow. She had by now hidden her item underneath her coat, and feigned ignorance of my accusation, but when I took her arm and pulled her into an alley, she pulled the stolen item out and started yelling at me that there was nothing I could do about it. Oh yes there was; I could take my merchandise back. We struggled with it and it fell; it was a box of cards which burst open and spilled on the ground.

Just at that moment, the woman’s grown daughter appeared and acted highly disappointed in her mother, which chastened her. They both left.

Here’s the instructive part: As I gathered up the cards amidst the falling snow, I realized that I had been away from the store for quite awhile. In that weird stretched time of dreams, it had been close to half an hour. I felt bad, having left the store alone, the employees having no idea where I was and going on without me.

When I woke up this morning, I analyzed that dream and recognized that bad feeling. I feel it a lot. That’s when I realized:

I live a life of regrets.

I am forever thinking of activities I could be doing, more efficient ways of accomplishing my projects, and regretting the difference. Now note: There’s nothing wrong with thinking up new projects or efficiencies. My error lies in living in pained regret that I’m not doing them. As Alexander Graham Bell once said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

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