Lesson No. 1: Trust Your Instincts

When my parents bought our house, they were the second couple to see it. The first couple went home that night to mull over the work that needed to be done, the long-term costs, the imperfections. When they came back the next morning ready to dive in, they were the second couple to do so: my parents had decided to take it on the spot.

It’s a valuable lesson and one I’m still learning. Yesterday at the Bastille Brocante I spent an inordinate amount of time looking at one lovely book, weighing the cost, condition, imperfections. Today when I went back to buy it, cash in hand, someone (an American!) had beat me to it. Now I’ll have more in the coffers for the Olympia fair at the end of the month but I am sad. Whitney-Houston-singing-“I Will Always Love You”-sad. Why?

1. Wow, great book. Will be missed.

2. It was mine yesterday.

3. I let it get away.

A similar thing happened at auction about a month ago. I was previewing a sale at Drouot that turned out to be utterly boring save for one lot. It wasn’t in the group I went there to see, but the cataloguing was so enticingly brief that I decided to take a look while I was there. Reader, it was a treasure trove. I was lost in space leafing through it until I felt eyes behind me and turned around to face a dealer I see at Drouot ALL THE TIME looking over my shoulder. Right then I knew I had already lost. He could outbid me no problem. Long story short, day of sale, the price kept climbing and I gave up too soon. Always one bid behind. Is this not a metaphor for life?

On the bright side, it appears I am attracted to salable stuff. But the real point here is that the book business takes guts. Or trust. Or however you want to describe wanton spending of time and money with no guarantee of a sale. The risk-return tradeoff can be quite subjective.

So, lesson learned: as far as self-doubt goes, let’s stop that right now. (And, let’s always put things we want on hold.)


Shelves at the Austrian National Library, Vienna. Or, Aspirations.


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4 Responses to Lesson No. 1: Trust Your Instincts

  1. Kenworthey says:

    I hate to say it, but I don’t think the “wait and make sure it’s really worth it” instinct is wrong. Sure, you let a few things get away. On the other hand, you ensure that whatever you do get, is worth it. I think the badness of the latter outcome is worse than the badness of the former. (Just my opinion, though.)


  2. Diana Potter says:

    I love this, Zoe! Beautifully written and sensibly sound. Keep ’em coming! Love, Aunt Dinah


  3. I think, starting out, one is right to be cautious. That was certainly my modus operandi, and it served me well. Over time you will feel more able to follow your gut reactions. And remember: your smartphone is your friend! So useful to be able to check things when you’re out and about. See you at Olympia. Missed you at the Grand Palais… Simon


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