Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Life as a Contact Sport

Reflections of an old scold: Holiday shopping and eating call up thoughts about styles of day-to-day living as a key to human happiness.

Two days before Thanksgiving, I had a harrowing time in a large supermarket that normally provides a satisfying experience of leisurely food shopping for the son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren I live with now, bringing home their favorite foods as an expression of love.

This time was different, as if zombies with carts had invaded the place, racing full steam ahead to knock over anyone in their paths, in glassy-eyed competition for everything on the shelves, a preview of what they would be doing elsewhere for bigger game on Black Friday.

Couple this with memories of holidays past, watching different eating styles, those who happily take whatever is put on their plates in contrast to others piling up food as if universal famine were the menu for the next day.

Why and how does so much anxiety pervade days that call for reflection, calm and appreciation of goodness in the precarious lives of human beings? What makes them sour what should be the sweetness of life?

Outside of Norman Rockwell scenes in American homes, the dramas go on in the nation’s capital, with the same divergence of hope and doom about the embattled effort to keep more people alive and well in the future.

If there is a national dystopia, it comes somewhere from our hearts and minds, not family tables or checkout counters. If we can’t bring back those Rockwell days, we can at least try to remember them as we stuff ourselves with too much food and electronic junk on days that should bring out the best in us all.

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