The parlor car

Pere Marquette Railroad parlor car No. 25, interior view, circa 1905. Getting there is supposed to be half the fun, isn't it?

Pere Marquette Railroad parlor car No. 25, interior view, circa 1905. Getting there is supposed to be half the fun, isn’t it?

The pill dispenser I bought last October to help me organize my supplements. It's become a kind of hourglass, a visual representation of the passage of time.

The pill dispenser I bought last October to help me organize my supplements. It’s become a kind of hourglass, a visual representation of the passage of time.

Over 60 years in business and still cranking out the deep-fried onion rings, The Beacon restaurant in Spartanburg offers something called “a-plenty,” its version of super-sizing. (You can read the menu here.) Many years have passed since my only visit, but I do remember ordering something or other “-a-plenty,” because that had been the point of going after all, and then laughing in delighted disbelief at the surfeit of whatever it was they’d served me.

divider-home

A friend and I were talking yesterday about how much we have in general. Not in material terms, though I suppose we’re both materially satisfied, but in “the things that really matter.” We’ve been served life-a-plenty, as The Beacon might put it. Rich interior lives, comfortable exterior lives.

Still, I’m not laughing, not lately. Maybe it’s my impatience with the lingering gluten crash symptoms. Maybe it’s the Craig debacle. Maybe its the gradual erosion I’ve felt over the last several years of so many constants. All or none of the above. I don’t know.

I linked last night to “Future Shock,” the 1972 documentary based on Alvin Toffler’s book. Here’s Orson Welles talking to the camera: “Comfortable homes, like old friends, give us a sense of security, the feeling that some things, at least, stay the same. It’s a feeling we need very much in this changing world. Every day we’re bombarded by choices. We need to make instant decisions. We’re in endless combat with our own environment, with all its pace and variety, its choice and over-choice.”

So there’s that, I guess.

Theologian Francis Schaeffer’s 1977 documentary “How Should We Then Live?” seems more relevant at the moment. Schaeffer suggests that we’ve freed ourselves to the point of chaos . In the absence of generally acknowledged absolutes … well, like the song says, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

Is it middle age that makes a person crave slowness and simplicity? Is that what’s going on with me? Is the feeling that I should be more deeply connected to more people a cause or an effect?

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My plastic pill dispenser divides the week into 14 compartments, a morning and an evening compartment for each day. When I noticed yesterday that only two days were left before I’d need to refill the dispenser, I was genuinely surprised. Had so many days really passed since the last refill? Not possible!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The scenery is moving past my well-appointed parlor car more quickly than it used to. What’s the big damn hurry? What gives?