The Wonders of Supermarkets: Finding Awe in Everyday Life

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In adulthood, it can feel like there are few opportunities for real possibility in one’s daily life. We are slaves to routine. We are a means to an end in the modern economy. In most of our work, we are cogs in the giant machine of commerce and business. We can have some autonomy there. But the autonomy can be limited. We are constrained by our circumstances. Is it any wonder we long for something else, we fantasize for an escape? We want something to just be different. Modern life feels so static.

Our screens are our mirror but also a distraction. Our screens give us possibility. They may not be real possibility. But consider the TV show or the video game. Wha are they but means to feel something vicariously? They work to an extent, of course. We all use our screens. God knows I’m addicted to my crossword puzzles.

But sometimes more organic senses of life can slip into the everyday. Yesterday I went shopping at the Safeway. This may seem a mundane task for most of us. But for some reason, yesterday shopping felt like when I was a kid at a toy store. The excitement and possibilities were suddenly endless, just as it was when I was young. The produce aisle in itself is one of the wonders of life, yet it is so easy to take for granted. Aesthetically it seemed to me no different than a beautiful painting. The explosion of color– green avocados, yellow bananas, pink radishes, orange bell peppers, vibrant red raspberries– alone was to make my heart jump with delight. But somehow I never seemed to notice it until now.

And all the choices to be made! Choice can have such an anxious, sad feel to it. But today choice seemed like the greatest part of being alive. What did I want to eat this week? Suddenly the possibilities were endless. Perhaps a salmon for dinner tomorrow? Perhaps a colorful salad for lunch? Maybe tacos for later in the week? It all seems mundane and silly sure. But it felt alive to me yesterday. It reminded me that awe is always available to us if we can look closely enough. It’s just that we forget to try and let the world bring us down.

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