Thursday, March 22, 2012

Shopping for More Out of Life

My toddler Renea chucked the toothbrush over the edge of the cart. I bent to pick it up and noticed the bottle of hand soap she must have thrown out moments earlier. I stuck both back into the overflowing grocery cart.

The cart from the little Indonesian grocery store is about half the size of one in the States and I managed to fit my two kids and about a month’s worth of groceries into it. Well, kinda managed.

A couple aisles later Evan dropped the barely-sealed bag of popcorn kernels onto the ground. One of the grocery girls scooped about half the kernels back into the bag and handed it back to me. Nice.

Where to put it? I guess the popcorn and the diapers and the toilet paper and the peanut butter and the sugar was a bit much for a 3-year-old to hold.

The cart leaned to the left and I pushed forward and to the right to keep from bumping into the store’s narrow aisles, and into the little Indonesian girl who had decided to follow us, becoming the cart’s wing man.

I pushed aside the annoyance as she pinched my kids’ cheeks, inciting a scream from Renea and a head-hiding from Evan.

It was too much. Too many groceries. Too much attention. Too little time. Too many things in our lives that all mostly good things but can become stressful things when crammed into our cart of a life.

And then we made the too-long flight to the States and I went to the huge superstore and I pushed a huge cart that easily fit my two kids, my mom hanging close, spoiling the delighted kids with treats.

And I didn’t know where to start—all the abundance, all the things I wish I had right there for cheap Wal-Mart prices. All that anonymity in wide aisles. All that lack of sweat. I should be disgusted to see all that abundance. But I grinned like a kid at an amusement park, content to spend the whole day pushing the smooth cart past beautiful displays.

It’s just too much.

Some days, though—fewer than they used to be, thank goodness—I almost cry with the ache of all that I miss in America. My family. Wheat Chex for breakfast. Sunday afternoons without power outages. Blending in. Poverty hidden far away instead of clinging to the sides of my street.

And I sometimes wish I could exchange the too-much of Indonesia for the too-much of America.

But though I’m thoroughly enjoying a break—too much sleep, too much cold, too much of Mom’s cooking—I still want most of my life to be spent in the World of Less.

Back to that shopping trip in Indonesia. When I ran out of room for the glass bottle of honey (and couldn’t risk it being tossed out by one of my kids), I turned to the little girl and asked for her help in carrying my groceries. She held out her open arms, which I filled with my abundance.

And that’s how I really want to live.

photo credit, qnmonic


  1. On the on the "other side of Borneo" I can rela
    te to what you write so beautifully.

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