How owning a DVD ruined my evening

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About five years ago, I was sitting in my flat, glancing through the television guide when I noticed that 'Indiana Jones and the last crusade' was on television, wednesday 8:30pm to be precise. What was even better was that it was on the BBC so there wouldn't be any adverts. Brilliant! I thought. I made a note of it and planned to get some snacks in, get back from London in good time, settle down and enjoy the movie.

Then a grim truth hit me. I already owned an 'Indiana Jones and the last crusade' DVD. There was no need to wait until wednesday evening. I could watch it whenever I liked.

I was completely deflated. Weird, isn't it? It would make sense that owning the DVD to the movie would increase my happiness. I would have the freedom to watch the film whenever I liked, as many times as I liked. It's a film watcher's Nirvana - full and immediate access. But what I'd lost by owning the DVD was the sense of anticipation. I could no longer look forward to watching the movie. As a result, I'm starting to wonder nowadays if I'm better off not having a movie collection. By not having a movie collection, I can get all excited when I find out that one of my hundred favourite movies will be on a friend's television or arrive through the post as part of a film rental service. Not owning has brought back the pleasure of anticipation and access.

I remember another weird twist on the whole 'owning stuff' thing. After I quit my office job and started writing, I was a lot shorter on cash. The items I bought cost, on average, a lot less than the items I bought when I was still working. But this didn't seem to affect how much I enjoyed the things I did buy. For example, I bought some mudguards for my single speed bike and I would swear I enjoyed that just as much as I enjoyed buying an entire mountain bike a few years previously.

I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to learn from these two events, but one thing does seem clear. The scale of your purchase really doesn't mean much. In fact, you may be better off not buying something if it allows you to anticipate enjoying that thing at a future date. The ability to buy anything we want whenever we want isn't Nirvana, it's a curse.