Monday, June 21, 2010


It is no news to any of you that I have Panic Disorder, or as recently discerned SPTS (Secondary Post Traumatic Stress).  Well, it was tested to the limits yesterday. Sunday, Father's Day, at the 'super' supermarket!  A friend and I walked in the door, to 'get just a few things' and instantly found we had stumbled into the gates of hell.

Frantic, frenzied, frenetic chaos!  Lights, loud speakers, microphones, crashing carts, hundreds of people rushing in multiple directions, and children screaming, screeching, at the top of their lungs.  We had to yell just to hear each other.  I literally turned to bolt out the door.  This is exactly the kind of thing that will throw me over the top.  It was as close to hell as I can imagine.

We didn't want a bed or tractor, we wanted milk, juice, bread and a bottle of Chohula.  Dodging carts, children running amuck, parents distracted on cell phones talking of their pending divorce or calling to ask their wife what aisle the picante sauce was on, became suddenly normal.  Deciding whether to run to the exit or not, I heard a voice from above, "Buy six bottles of Chardonnay and you get the seventh free."  Alright, the answer to a prayer. I was tempted.  Now what aisle are the wine glasses on? Or more to the point what acre?

In the midst of being told the potato chips were on aisle 5 to later find they were really on aisle 10 lead my friend and me into the path of an Army SGT in camo.  My friend stopped him and asked him if this store were more frightening than being in Afghanistan.  The SGT smiled a huge smile and said, "No contest - this store."  Okay I am all for deploying!  Sign me up for the next flight out.

Why do we live like this?  Why do we tolerate this?  The 'cheese lady' told us that her most expensive cheese was $32.00 a pound and it was the 'highest selling cheese in the market.'  Good heavens.  And all I want is a dented refrigerator donated to store some supplies for my soldiers. 

Nobody noticed anybody else.  Nobody smiled at anybody.  There was no human contact, civility, interaction, courtesy, caring, interest or compassion.  I observed, while buying four lemons, the frenzy of this space and wondered where the human beings were.

I like Farmer's Markets.  I like small family grocery stores.  Are there any?  I like kindness and professionalism and courtesy.  In my opinion, it is impossible to overemphasize the immense need humans have to be really, really distracteded from the present moment.  Is it that they don't want to be listened to, heard, or taken seriously, or to be understood.  Or are these people so far removed from reality that they simply do not care. 

We left shaking our spinning heads.  As we headed to the parking lot, the traffic on the freeway seemed peaceful and subdued compared to what we had just endured.  And you know the strange part was he and I felt that there wasn't another person in that store that felt as we did.  If they did, they were camoflaging it well.  We both felt misplaced and disoriented.

Do we really care about other people?  Do we have to be in a chaotic hypnotic state to make sense of our lives?  Deep down in the fragile inner wells of our being, don't we all yearn for an absense of chaos and anxiety? Or do we?

What does it take?  Perhaps rare qualities like caring, time, giving, unselfishness, concentration, sensitivity, tolerance, and yes, I suppose patience for the frenzy of the super, supermarket.  

But I personally choose to allow room for silence.  For I believe that it is the wise person who chooses silence and peace and doesn't feel compelled to fill up all the blank spaces with distractions. 

As for yesterday, I had help, I had support, I had medicine.  But then that is a story for another day!

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