They asked me to stay home for a couple of weeks, and I did what they asked. Then they asked me to stay home for another two weeks, and after that another, and then another, and now yet another. The fact that with each extension we get more and more irritated reveals something interesting about us. How so? Because isn’t it true that the day after the end of the previous two weeks is the first day of the rest of your life? So if on the first day of the rest of your life you’re being asked to stay home for the next two weeks, that’s no big deal, right? So the only explanation for it becoming a bigger deal after each two-week period, is that you’re thinking not about the rest of your life; you’re thinking about your life that’s already been spent. In other words, contrary to what our mothers told us not to do, we’re are crying over spilt milk.
But that might have been too quick. When I was twenty, two weeks of staying home would have been a minor reduction of the value of the rest of my life. But at the age of seventy, it could well be a significant portion of the time remaining to me. And yet the older I get the more patient I become, which is the very opposite – is it not? – of what this ‘increasing marginal utility’ argument would suggest.
So the twenty year old is torn between his lack of patience and his having less to lose, and the seventy year old is torn between his abundant patience and his having more to lose. So, it would seem, at whichever age you happen to be, the two forces cancel out.
I guess you can tell that this staying home thing has given me way too much time on my hands.
Categories: Critical Thinking