In a few minutes we’re going to trek over to the train station* to catch the 10:15 to Alicante, from there to fly to Hamburg. We’re meeting our daughter Liebling and her husband Chiquito for a much-anticipated spring break.
We’ve had our tickets for quite a while, and are excited to go. Earlier this week, though, we learned about something we’ll be missing: what’s being billed as the largest pillow fight in Spain will take place in the Plaza de la Virgen this afternoon.
If we’d known about the pillow fight, we’d still be going to Germany, of course. I’m actually not sure how much I would enjoy the prospect of trading even cushioned blows with a lot of enthusiastic strangers. The pillow fight can act as a placeholder for all those things that we can no longer choose because we have chosen something else.
It happens all the time, and in settings with much higher stakes. And it contributes to the spread of the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), implicated in the difficulty of settling into what we’re doing right here, right now, that is so prevalent in modern life.
There is a different kind of decision paralysis, perhaps less about a reluctance to foreclose other options and more about making sure that the option selected is the absolute, ultimate best. And mentioning this second kind gives me the chance to share a comic from XKCD:
I’m sure at some point I’ll have more to say about choice, regret, decision paralysis, and related topics, but that’s going to have to wait. We’ve got a train to catch.
*Estació del Nord (in Valencian) is a huge fancy building next to the bullring in the center of Valencia. For us it’s a memorable reminder to double check assumptions, such as, “if we’re leaving on a train from the center of Valencia, this is where we catch it.” The first time we took a train to Alicante we arrived at the station with a very few minutes to spare, and were confused not to find information about our train on the overhead screens. We learned that there are two train stations in the center of Valencia, and our train was waiting at the other one, Estación de Joaquin Sorolla (in Castellano this time). Remarkably, we managed to catch it, with the help of a timely shuttle bus and a lot of running. We know exactly where we catch today’s train–we double checked.
[Images: Wikipedia, Valencia.es.eventsdroid.com, XKCD, Wikipedia]