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Finding Your Whole Foods

Frindle's picture

There’s nothing quite like meandering through a city. Not knowing where you’re going to go next, or what you’re going to see. As one of my friends had said only the day before, “It’s all an adventure in guesswork.” And it is. My group wandered around, doing some shopping here, checking out the used bookstore there. Every time I turned my head I saw something different, something exciting: A dog walker, a street blocked off by police cars, an old building next to a shiny new one. A group of forty rollerbladers racing through the streets, the leader yelling “RIGHT TURN RIGHT TURN” and as one the group makes the turn, some slowing down, some going backwards, but all of them making it. Except for one, the man with his head down, the man going to fast to notice anything around him. As he skated ahead, he was being left behind.

I noticed a lot of adults walking the same way the rollerblader skated. I noticed it because I often do the same thing: head down, shoulders slightly hunched, quick steps. It means business, it means stress, it means you have a place to be and you’re going to get there on time and that means no looking around, no small smiles to passerby, no muttered hellos, no noticing anything. No time for anyone.

But then I have a chance to notice the children. Multitudes of babies in strollers stare out at the sky and the people around them in wonder. Children are running everywhere, so excited to be outside and doing something. While I was waiting for my group near the registers in Whole Foods, I heard a voice behind me: “Come on grandma, this way!” The body from which the voice originated enters into my line of sight: maybe nine or ten, African American, and absolutely adorable. He walks tall and proud, carrying a basket with four items into the express checkout lane. He still isn’t tall enough to see over the counter, let alone put a basket on it. He stops trying after the first attempt when everything slides to the back of the basket, and instead puts it down before carefully using two hands to place each item individually on the counter in front of him. He then runs to the front of the store to put the basket away, proud to be able to do such a grand and exciting thing as shop in Whole Foods. The grandma looks at me, shrugs her shoulders and tilts her head in that way adults do when they want to say “Kids. What’cha gonna do?”

What’cha gonna do indeed. Kids always seem to be excited at the most mundane things. As Robin Henig says in his article, “…play evolved because it is good preparation for adulthood. It is a chance for young animals to learn and rehearse the skills they will need for the rest of their lives…But…the gestures of play, while similar, are not literally the same as the gestures of real life. In fact, the way an animal plays is often the exact opposite of the way it lives.” The little boy was learning how to pick things out in the grocery store, how to bring them up to the register. He was learning about everyday life, but he wasn’t acting the same way the adults around him were. For them, grocery shopping was a chore, another obligation in addition to work and laundry and picking up the drycleaning. But this little boy was playing while he was doing it, learning in the exact opposite of the way he will live.

This made me wonder: at what point do we stop being excited by the small things? When does going to the grocery store become a chore and not an adventure?

When do we become the man on the rollerblades, skating ahead of everybody and everything?

I’m not sure what my next trip for Philly holds. But I know there will be excitement around every corner. I haven’t lost that childish streak entirely, and I don’t plan on losing it anytime soon. Because one of the worst things that can happen to a person is that they stop finding joy in their everyday lives. Life is not supposed to be about living for those moments that come every once in a blue moon. Life is supposed to be about seeing wonderful things everyday. Life is about finding your Whole Foods.