Despite what on the surface appears to be sound advice, one thing I will never stoop to is shopping with a cell phone, no matter how confused I might be. I suppose that were I not so stubborn that would have helped me out of an existentially dispiriting experience in front of the bread section of a local supermarket last week. My wife has baked our bread for years so our need for store bought bread is rare. Every once in a while we run out, which means stopping the gap with commercial fare. Granted, there are some that are quite good. But once seduced by homemade bread there is not turning back. Last week I had one task to complete – go to town and buy a loaf of bread. On the surface that does not strike one as a particularly daunting task. That is, until one is confronted by choices so innumerable that winnowing down to a final decision seems insurmountable. Having had a long and sometimes painful relationship with insecurity, it is a bit embarrassing to wrestle with that demon when figuring out which loaf makes the cut.
The good news is that I had a fellow traveler there to share the pain with me. As I turned the corner he was standing there with a quizzical look on his face and it turned out he too felt challenged by all those choices. Be nice if there were just plain bread. No. There are multi-grained loaves of innumerable combinations, plain and not so plain whites, ryes, dark and not so darks, round ones, oval ones – the list goes on. We both stood there sharing our frustration, considered the relative merits of each, and then each selected the same grainy loaf merely because it represented, at least to us, the choice least susceptible to recrimination when set on the table at home for inspection. I do not know about other people, but when I am sent to the store with specific instructions my fear of failure fuels the entire enterprise. Why? Because I have failed on many an occasion.