This world. This place. This life.

The peace of fewer choices


Two radio stations come in clearly in our Girdwood condo–Glacier City Radio, and KSKA. We can listen to ESPN 550 “The Zone” in the car, but it begins crackling with static as we get closer to home, and it disappears completely as we turn the corner into our parking lot.

I’m a talk-radio junkie, so I’ve tuned the kitchen radio to KSKA.  If I don’t care for the show airing when I’m working in the kitchen, I turn the radio off.

Two choices of stations, and a choice to listen or not.  Pretty simple.  No fiddling with the tuning knob, no dithering about possibilities on other stations. It’s kind of peaceful.

Isn’t it strange, to have so much privilege that privilege becomes oppressive? To have so many options in my daily life that it’s a relief when circumstances narrow those choices?

There was a story I liked when I was a kid, about a prince who stopped eating. No matter what rich delicacies his father put on the table, the prince turned away. He wasn’t hungry.

The prince decided to go on a journey, looking for something to whet his appetite. At the end of his quest, in a small hut in the forest, someone offered him a slice of brown bread.

It tasted delicious.

Liesl and I ordered take-out from a Chinese restaurant in Lake Tahoe a few weeks ago. A sign over the buffet said, “Take what you need. Don’t waste food.”

If we want a more equitable world, where we all share the planet’s bounty, those of us with privilege will have to learn to take only what we need from the buffet.

The way I see human nature, this is only going to happen if we’re really convinced that less is more. The change we need can’t rely on saintly self-sacrifice.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to. Restraint actually does feel better than excess. Limits help us feel more secure. And fewer options make our choices simpler.


2 thoughts on “The peace of fewer choices

  1. It’s so true.

    When we lived in Buffalo, we had a television and one of those digital converter boxes. We really only got great reception for one station, PBS (WNED Buffalo-Toronto to be specific). It was nice – if we wanted to watch TV, we’d see what PBS had on. It seems to be the same thing for the people who do the CSAs with farms (not sure if they have those in Alaska – it’s common in Seattle). You get a box of food. Deal with it. And of course, everyone’s fine and well.

    I think with many choices comes the false perception that it is possible to be perfect, if you make the right choices and control the situation perfectly. At least, I know I have felt that way. A simpler life is less pressure and easier to cope with the inevitable hardship.

    • Until a few weeks ago, Girdwood still had analog cable–and far fewer channels than Anchorage. We adjusted downward when we moved here. When we got back from the lower 48, we hooked up our new-again digital cable, and I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the channels.

      We’ve done several CSA options here in AK–both the all-local, summer-only ones, and the Washington State (and beyond) year-round Full Circle Farm. The forced-choice was helpful. We eat more veggies when they come in a box, than when I wander the produce section choosing each one.

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