I don't recall the Marblehead Farmers' Market
being rained out any Saturday this summer, but last weekend was
close, so there were fewer vendor stalls occupied.
Of course, we wish for the best weather for
the market vendors. But since I didn't cause the rain threat, I
can admit to having enjoyed having fewer choices and a smaller
crowd. I realized this as I wandered around, noticing artists I
hadn't seen before because I'm usually quick-shopping my
favorites from the bread booth to the fisherman's truck.
So as I sniffed soaps (by invitation) at
Grace Farm Organics, I may have had a glimpse of a better world
as compared to my presently cluttered life.
I like to buy a nicely scented goat's milk
soap in the fall to enjoy during winter showers, but recall
being overwhelmed by all the choices in other years. One year I
chose "chocolate," which I can tell you was a mistake.
This year, the Lynn soap-maker explained, she
was offering a smaller selection so that customers would have an
easier time choosing.
The scents were mostly traditional like
"luscious lavender," "oatmeal milk & honey," "honeysuckle" and a
seasonal "pumpkin spice." I easily chose "almond vanilla."
Liking the attitude, I stayed to talk awhile,
and noted that I'm also overwhelmed by face cream lately.
When I was a teenager, my mother told me that
if I wouldn't stay out of the sun, I should at least protect my
skin, and gave me my first bottle of Oil of Olay. I stayed with
the brand for the next 50 years, but now when I look for the
little pink bottle it's surrounded by dozens of other bottles,
some of them made by the same company, but now called "total
effects, 7-in-1 anti-aging mature skin therapy." I bought this
with a coupon; don't like it.
Last spring, I couldn't find my traditional
Coppertone 4, to allow tanning but prevent burning. The closest
I could find was Hawaiian Tropic 6. Glad I never had a coupon
for "Vitamin D Deficiency 15."
Standing there in the middle of the farmers
market, I looked at my adult life and asked myself a question:
What's with the coupons? Yes, they save money on what you plan
to buy anyhow; but why do I let myself be manipulated into
buying things I don't need in order to save 50 cents?
The Grace Farm lady offered me a sample of
her "gentle daily moisturizer. It's not pink, but it feels like
my old Oil of Olay. Bought a bottle, without a coupon; it was
not only "made in Massachusetts," it was made in Lynn and
wrapped in American-produced packaging!
And this is just face cream, folks. Think
what I do with food coupons! No wonder I can't lose weight; my
favorite ice cream treat, which I first tried because of a
coupon, is on sale! Two for one!
Have you bought cereal lately? Facing all the
varieties and flavors of Quaker instant oatmeal, I decided to
buy the original round box, cook it five minutes, and add fruit
from the farmers market. Whoa, that's a long five minutes. Glad
I didn't buy the original, original oatmeal that you cook
overnight on the wood stove.
I know, lots of people have long been urging
a return to a simpler lifestyle. Buy local, anti-consumerism,
that kind of thing. I've avoided them because mostly they seem
to be liberals who also want higher taxes, gun control,
politically correct speech and Obama's re-election. And they'd
probably be annoyingly inconsistent, choosing the original,
original oatmeal even though it takes more energy to cook than
the instant cereal, then complain about global warming.
But unlike many conservatives, I'm not
looking for "growth" either — bigger, better, faster, more,
more, more. The vital economic question is: How do we create
jobs without constant, and often annoying, innovation?
You've never seen me cry; but then you
haven't been in my house while I was trying to program my
phones, or after I lost a caller because a finger accidentally
hit a tiny button on the tiny handset.
For some reason, my living-room radio comes
on by itself at 8 p.m., while the portable radio in my bedroom
comes on at 7 a.m., then shuts off an hour later. What did I
accidentally program, what did I do with the instruction
Please don't feel bad if I refuse you as a
friend on Facebook or whatever. I have merely rejected Facebook
itself, and all the other social whatevers.
I will not Twitter. You want to know what I
think, read my column. (It took me a lot more than 140
characters to get all this out of my system!)
And I haven't even started on how I'm not
getting a Kindle, which I've tried and hated.
The simpler world I glimpsed at the soap
stall would probably damage what is left of the national and
world economies, as people preserved, repaired, made do and
enjoyed a book-swap paperback instead of buying the latest new
stuff and frantically keeping in constant touch with limitless
Innovation, which has driven all world
progress, has become enough of too much. Now what?