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
Even if you graduated from college 20 years ago or more, there is something about September that prompts the desire to learn. Sometimes that learning is not so much academic as it is perceptual. For me learning to live in moderation, if only 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 from Turkey. When Southern Seasons, a large gourmet foods retailer, was holding its annual inventory clearance sale, I noticed that Zenobia pistachios were on sale. A two and a half poundbag! Egads, I hardly buy more than a pound at the Whole Foods supermarket nearby, and even then it takes several days to go through them all. And those are California pistachios, which are okay, but nothing like the Turkish.
So, here I am face to face with a two and a half pound bag of the finest pistachios in the world. If I bring them home, I know I am going to eat them in 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. Over the next three days, at the worst time of the day to be eating pistachio nuts — from about nine to eleven in the evening, I down the entire bag. My stomach shows it over the next couple of days. Now I’m thinking, Okay I’m going to have to abstain; I love those nuts, but how can I bring them into my house? Once I start, there’s no resisting.
Days go by. The sale is still on. It ends on July 11. I’m in Southern Seasons again and walk past the Zenobia pistachio display. The two and a half pound bags are there staring me in the face. I buy another one. I take it 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 on the nuts during the day at work. At home that night, zero nuts. It takes me several weeks to consume the two and a half pound bag. I am glad I bought the bag, I am glad I ate the nuts, and I am proud of myself for taking that long to go through it. Then, a brainstorm emerges!
The next time I’m in Southern Seasons, I make my way straight to the pistachio shelf. There, there is an abundance of those beautiful two and one-half pound bags. I buy five of them! I bring them home. I put four in the freezer. I open one bag, take out a small amount, and put it in a plastic bag 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 as if they’re some kind of rare commodity that I have to gobble down while the going is good. Like a squirrel, I know I’ll have enough nuts to last me for months on end. At least in the context of eating pistachio nuts, I have learned 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 were released or plays were produced? Aside from the fraction of the population who derive their income from such information and entertainment vehicles, would anyone else even notice? Are there not already enough books in a typical bookstore, in the libraries, in people’s homes to hold us for at least a year? Would anyone run out of movie options based on the current holdings of his or her local video store?
A moratorium on such products is never likely to happen. In the USA, we generate books, movies, plays, video games, interactive websites, and all manners of engaging media around the clock every day, fifty-two weeks a year.
The only break in the action that anyone is likely to experience is when there’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 a magical time where, if you are lucky, you actually get to contemplate your existence. You have to grope around, go rustic, and figure out how to make do for the evening. All those devices that require electricity so that you can make your life easier or amuse yourself are suddenly inoperable. You may actually have to light a fire, read by candle or flashlight, or, and this is the 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 north towards the Wellspring Grocery Store, I see a man with a cane, gently pulled along by a Seeing Eye dog as they cross a busy intersection. Nothing so unusual about that except that the man is talking on a cell phone. Now I’ve seen it all!