Wednesday, November 22, 2006


A desire for peace and simplicity is an admirable goal, of course. But, as every gift has a corresponding curse, I have found that to be so in my movement to simplicity. Specifically, I have been battling the demon of judgmentalism.

I guess that kind of thing can happen with a lot of other life changes. You give up smoking, and you get upset with smokers. You lose weight, and have no tolerance for overweight people. You go the simplicity route, and - yes - you find yourself looking with disdain on the Hummers and mansions and every other evidence of overconsumption.

I was driving home yesterday, listening to a local radio station playing 24/7 Christmas music. During the break, the announcer reminded everyone that their DJs were temporarily living in a truck outside the Bangor mall, collecting food and money to distribute to the poor this Thanksgiving. Immediately after the break came an ad for plastic surgery. Not plastic surgery to fix gross deformities, but plastic surgery to nip and tuck if you've lost weight but still want to look "toned." The contrast in the two messages was so evident. Some people can't afford to buy food while others can afford all sorts of nonessential "extras" to make their lives more to their liking. I try to start getting my priorities in line, and all of a sudden, those kinds of things seem to jump out at me. I think sometimes it's because they lift a mirror to my lifestyle, past and present, in many ways, and that upsets me. It can be just as hard when you're aging to look in a psychological/spiritual mirror as to look in a physical mirror.

I think it's partly that I'm trying to simplify and partly that I'm getting older, but other things are bothering me more than they ever have. Take grocery carts, for instance. At any given moment in our grocery parking lot, there are 30 or so carts strewn around as if a tornado had been by. The store has those cart drop-off places in several locations, but it doesn't matter. Too many people are unloading their carts and then just leaving them there. How long does it take to push the cart back to the holding place? A minute? Less than a minute? What is the problem? I could understand it if the offenders were old or infirm, but the ones I have seen do this are able-bodied people. What are they thinking? Some of these carts are left to roll around only a few feet from the holding place. They strike parked cars when the wind blows, they block otherwise empty parking spaces - I just can't understand the whole situation.

The things that irked me when I was younger are irritating me even more now.

I loved the movie "Grumpy Old Men," but I don't want "grumpy" to be my main personality trait for the rest of my life. I certainly don't want judgmentalism to represent my attitude of the world. On my journey to simplicity, I find that life is never simple.

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