In This Edition:
1. Back to School in September
2. Learning to Live in Moderation
3. The Information and Media Machine
4. An Observation on an Ordinary Day
Back to School in September
Autumn is getting ready for its return. Even if you graduated fromcollege 10, 20, or 30 years ago, there’s something about September thatseems to prompt the desire to learn. Sometimes that learning is not so muchacademic as it is perceptual. For me learning to live in moderation, ifonly for a seemingly small measure, is proving to be highly rewarding.
Learning to Live in Moderation
I have always loved pistachio nuts, especially those imported fromTurkey. When Southern Seasons, a large gourmet foods retailer, was holdingits annual inventory clearance sale, I noticed that Zenobia pistachios wereon sale, only $18.75 for a two and a half pound bag. A two and a half poundbag! E gads, I hardly buy more than a pound at the Whole Foods supermarketnearby, and even then it takes several days to go through them all. Andthose are California pistachios, which are okay, but nothing like theTurkish.
So, here I am face to face with a two and a half pound bag of the finestpistachios in the world. If I bring them home, I know I am going to eat themin a rapid manner and they are 80% to 85% fat. Still, there’s no resisting,so I walk to the check out counter, buy the bag, and make my way home. Overthe next three days, at the worst time of the day to be eating pistachionuts — from about nine to eleven in the evening, I down the entire bag. Mystomach shows it over the next couple of days. Now I’m thinking, Okay I’mgoing to have to abstain; I love those nuts, but how can I bring them intomy house? Once I start, there’s no resisting.
Days go by. The sale is still on. It ends on July 11. I’m in SouthernSeasons again and walk past the Zenobia pistachio display. The two and ahalf pound bags are there staring me in the face. I buy another one. I takeit home. This time, I tell myself that there will be no eating after 9 p.m.I bag a few each morning and bring them to work and allow myself to munch onthe nuts during the day at work. At home that night, zero nuts. It takes meseveral weeks to consume the two and a half pound bag. I am glad I boughtthe bag, I am glad I ate the nuts, and I am proud of myself for taking thatlong to go through it. Then, a brainstorm emerges!
The next time I’m in Southern Seasons, I make my way straight to thepistachio shelf. There, there is an abundance of those beautiful two and ahalf pound bags. I buy five of them! I bring them home. I put four in thefreezer. I open one bag, take out a small amount, and put it in a plasticbag for work the next day.
My system works. I am only eating a small bag-full a day, during the day.Because I have a huge supply of pistachio nuts at home, I no longer feel asif it’s some kind of rare commodity which I have to gobble down while thegoing is good. Like a squirrel, I know I’ll have enough nuts to last me formonths on end. At least in the context of eating pistachio nuts, I havelearned moderation. What a triumph! Where else can I apply this lesson?
The Information and Media Machine
Speaking of moderation… Suppose for the next year that no new books –not even from me — were written in America? Suppose that no new movies werereleased or plays were produced? Aside from the fraction of the populationwho derive their income from such information and entertainment vehicles,would anyone else even notice? Are there not already enough books in atypical bookstore, in the libraries, in people’s homes to hold us for atleast a year? Would anyone run out of movie options based on the currentholdings of his or her local video store?
A moratorium on such products is never likely to happen. In the USA, wegenerate books, movies, plays, video games, interactive websites, and allmanners of engaging media around the clock every day, fifty-two weeks ayear.
The only break in the action that anyone is likely to experience is whenthere’s a power failure. Then, for only a few hours at best, all is silent.All is dark except for the candles and flashlights one has handy. This is amagical time where, if you are lucky, you actually get to contemplate yourexistence. You have to grope around, go rustic, figure out how to make dofor the evening. All those devices that require electricity so that you canmake your life easier or amuse yourself are suddenly inoperable. You mayactually have to light a fire, read by candle or flashlight, or, and this isthe real sacrifice, go to bed early in a less than toasty bedroom.
An Observation on an Ordinary Day
On the sidewalk along busy Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, heading northtowards the Wellspring Grocery Store, I see a man with a cane, gently pulled alongby a seeing eye dog as they cross a busy intersection. Nothing so unusualabout that except that the man is talking on a cell phone. Now I’veseen it all!