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The sights and smells of markets in exotic foreign locations take you on a journey you won't forget.
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I met two colleagues for lunch today.  I just wanted a simple salad.  A dinner salad was not on the menu.  I had to choose the meat, the lettuce, the side dishes, the dressing, etc.  "Please, just bring me the equivalent of a dinner salad."  The waitress looked as though she had lost her best friend.

On the way home from work tonight, I stopped in the store to pick up a few rolls of paper towel.  An entire row of the supermarket was devoted to varieties of paper towels in various quantity packages.  There were double rolls, rolls that were quilted, rolls that were earth friendly, rolls that broke into pieces instead of sheets, rolls made from recycled paper, rolls that were white and those with infinite varieties of daisies and kitchen equipment decorating their sheets, and too many package sizes to list here.  I almost shut my eyes to grab one, any one, that would get me out of the store.  I took one white roll. 

 I'm a presenter at a workshop and needed some chocolates to keep the troops awake.  I looked at the infinite variety of little wrapped chocolates and almost cried.  I grabbed a huge variety bag of little bite (100 calories per bite the package says), individually wrapped chocolate bars and hoped they would not melt before the workshop.

My last stop was the final straw.  My ceiling fan came without the pull.  It was supposed to be in the box, but likely fell out through the slice that left a small opening.  The store manager told me that was no problem at all and to help myself to any pull on the rack in aisle six.  I walked to aisle six expecting a few silver chains with a bell-shaped pull tab on them.  Instead, aisle six was the entire row, just like the paper towels in the supermarket.  It started with just chains of every metalic hue and moved into crystal pulls and decorator birds, butterflies and alligators at every price imaginable.

I went back to the manager and inquired, "They are all different prices, what price did you have in mind for my replacement?"  "You only need one pull chain.  I'm sorry it wasn't in your box.  Choose whatever you like ."  It was like opening a toy store to a child and saying, "help yourself to one toy."  I was stumped.  I was stopped in my tracks.  I thought of all the beautiful fan pull chains I had seen in luxurious homes and then the chains already on my existing fans.  Somewhere in between was the one for me.  I walked up and down that row, picking up one and then another, until the tears began to flow.   I could not decide.  I could not pick one fan pull chain from that entire row.  Finally, I took a silver one.

I've lived in many different countries from Asia to Europe to the Caribbean, among the wealthy and the poor.  I do not ever remember crying over the selection of a fan pull chain.  I don't remember ever having such a variety of choices.  I think this is something peculiar to the United States and perhaps any place under our influence.  I don't think it's healthy.

There are many things about which major decisions need to be made:  elections, wars, jobs, marriages, locations, money, children, parents, education, health and more.  If we waste our time every day with so much other minutia, do we have the mental resources to put into the really major things?  Are we so engaged in our excessive lifestyles that the important things receive less attention than they should?  Alas, I sound like an advocate for the simpler life; but I think that's my feeling.  I think that less minutia and more rational thinking about important things would add more to the quality of my life than the right roll of paper towel.