January 4, 2015

Freedom of Choice: A Modern Inconvenience.

supermarket aisle confusing food


“I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.” ∼ Albert Einstein


It’s been a long day at work.

I’m tired and all I want to do is get home and slumber. I realize at this point that I have no food and that the journey to my warm and cozy bed is about to be prolonged.

As I walk into my local supermarket at around seven at night, I notice that hordes of other unsuspecting souls share my problem. Many others have gathered after work to surrender their material wealth to unknown “deities” which assume such names such as Coca-Cola and Kellogg’s.

In a zombie-like state I navigate the endless aisles, stacked tightly with solutions to end all problems: Are you hungry? Are you depressed? Do you need to get rid of some embarrassing hair?

If we can imagine it, there is probably a cure (deity) to invest in (worship).

I try and pull myself together—all I want are some bananas, apples and berries.

I’m not interested in putting toxic food into my body or allowing some sugar-laced siren to take hold of me. But in my hungry and tired state, they sing such sweet melodies, promising immortal health—how can I refuse?

Shaking my head, I rub my eyes and try to see reality through the veiled mess of messages that surround me.

Closing my eyes, I reach out and grab what I need and run to the check out.

Inspecting my basket, a sense of relief hits me; I successfully managed to only buy the goods I intended. And as I look to other trolleys, orderly lined up: they are piled high with promises—promises of straight hair, promises of weight loss, promises that we will be the envy of others.

Walking out of the supermarket, I breathe a deep sigh. I look towards my bus stop, only to see the back of my bus leaving me in the cold rain.

There will be another one in 15 minutes.

Those I passed in the supermarket now stand alongside me, holding their bounties as penance. I observe a sense of belief in the eyes of those who hold dreams in their shopping bags, as if the resolve of endless torment resides beneath a cellophane sheet.

At this point I wonder: are we only as loyal and faithful to ourselves as our options would dictate, or is there another way to live a free and rational life?

As the rain continues to fall, drops descend down my face, as if they were my own bitter tears. My chariot nowhere to be seen, I decide to brave the wild and quest onwards by foot.

Passing restaurant upon restaurant, the world’s finest cuisine is conveniently on show. An oriental waitress fists a gigantic menu my way, gives me a seductive smile and then proceeds to entice me in with cooked meats that are on display in her window.

I rummage for my bananas, clenching at one as if it where a pistol and imagine myself as a cowboy in a western shoot off.

On one side of a dusty track I stand, chewing at a toothpick and squinting across at the various food “deities.” They trash-talk me, telling me I am too skinny and that I need to eat some “real food.”

My fruitful six-shooter blows them away in a cloud of smoke.

My near death experience over, my journey home continues. As Dante ascended his Inferno, my reality took on its own divine comedy.

Layer upon layer, ghostly “deities” fight for my attention. One such illumination boldly revealed that the essence of manliness resided at the bottom of a bottle of scotch. This rugged premonition juxtaposed against an old man bearing the very same bottle, asking me for spare change.

Once again rummaging in my bag for ammunition, I fought back with a seeded fruit. As an apple once made Adam mortal, my hopes where high for this old soul to once again find wisdom under the tree of knowledge where he took shelter.

Finally, in my warm bed I hibernate from the world. Armed now with my berries, I am ready to fight off any prince charming that dares to wake me from my slumber. My mobile phone lights up.

An hour goes by, I see the same bowl of berries still sat with me in bed. This strange visual reminds me that I was in fact hungry. As the self-illuminating white light continues to guide me deeper into a restless state, the “deities” of Silicon Valley rest easy, taking strength in the multiplying worldwide belief in them.

At this point I now consider, “are we dictated by our belief in brand ‘deities’, or can we in fact think and make decisions for ourselves?”

In my mind, I begin to visualise those whom I considered being crazy for having irrational ideas and thoughts. But perhaps it is I who is at fault and in need of perspective?

Pondering this line of questioning, I begin to wonder whether any choice I made today was indeed my own. Has my self-esteem tricked me into thinking that the ideas I have took years to build? Or are they simply fabricated by others who would have me bow to their leaders?

I shudder at this thought, roll over, arm my alarm for 6:30 am and close my eyes.

I wonder what irrational world I will awaken to tomorrow.



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Author: Kam Phullar

Editor: Renee Picard 

Photo: Cyril Caton at Flickr 

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