Thursday, October 15, 2009

Simple Pleasures...And A Few That Are Guilty

I love to go to the Mall. I love the sights and sounds and smells. I especially like going there on a work night when the crowds are thin and I have a little money in my pocket. My wife and I decided to give ourselves a little bonus and mine immediately started burning a hole in my pocket so off to the Mall we went. We started off with a gourmet meal at the food court. Even now, after my evening insulin shot, my blood sugar is buzzing from the orange chicken I got on the Chinese buffet. I should have avoided it and opted for the bourbon chicken. After dinner we parted ways and each of us headed out to indulge in whatever pleasures our money would buy us. I made a bee line for the music store where I quickly unloaded some of my cash. I completed my collection of all the Rolling Stones remasters along with an excellent Return to Forever jazz fusion anthology. Afterwards I went to Starbucks for a pound of fresh Guatemala Antigua and a sugar free Cinnamon Latte. I then proceeded to one of the benches designated as a husband waiting area. It's where all married men gather to wait for their soon to be arriving, shopping bag overloaded, wives. I quietly and peacefully sat there, sipping my latte and watching people walking around. A large majority of the people I observed were talking on their phones or checking their text messages and emails even if they were with other people. How did we live before cell phones? I think this obsession with staying connected to other people electronically is a thinly veiled indicator of everyone's basic loneliness and deep need to feel connected to others and to be thought of by others. We have a deep fear of losing our connectedness and being alone. I, too, feel this to some degree although it is not an obsession for me. Sometimes I think the more we communicate and the more we are electronically connected, the lonelier we get and the more isolated we feel. What most of us really need is less cell phone time and more face to face human interaction and affection. Let's face it. All most of us want is to be loved by others. That's more important than being "connected". I sometimes joke about Facebook. I tell friends it is a way for me to feel connected while also allowing me to be socially isolated. It's sad, and maybe funny, but true. The individualism of people in our society, the social isolation, and over dependence on electronic connections, creates much of the loneliness so may people feel. The Mall may be a place to spend your money and avoid your loneliness. It may be a place for people to gather in shared loneliness. At it's best, however, it is a place to be with people, have a good meal, drink a latte, talk to an old person sitting on a bench, buy something that makes you happy, and get a Cinnabon to take home for later.

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