If you’ve ever watched a baby sleep you might agree that there’s something magical about it. The calm purity of closed eye lids and the gentle heaving of breath make sensible all those angel comments grandparents like to throw around. Baby sleep after all is a perfect state of serene peacefulness. It’s the kind of sleep that people relish and that often attracts smiles from passersby on the street or in shopping malls. “Aw, so peaceful”, you might hear someone say, “What an angel”.
But where there are angels there must be demons and increasingly it seems that one such demon is the adult version of that sleeping baby. Somewhere along the line, who can really say when, the public snoozer became an enemy of the peace. You can see it in any number of parks or other public spaces where an unfortunate individual has dozed off on a bench or is perhaps chasing dreams propped up against a tree – people avert their eyes, whisper to each other and steer clear. You might assume from watching such scenes that sleepers are unpredictable creatures in perhaps the same way that zombies are – slow but potentially deadly.
I can’t say that I’ve had that experience personally. Rarely have I observed nappers reaching out to claw at nearby ankles or dog tails. Most sleepers are a peaceful lot no matter their location, their only concern, it would seem, is being left alone and who among us can’t relate to that? Evidently many – as efforts to crack-down on sleeping in public seem to be steadily on the rise. Continue reading
We’ve all heard the rhetoric about our ‘problem with stuff’. As the chorus goes, we are mega consumers of goods and have inundated ourselves with so many products and materials that we’re now swimming in the excess, unable to properly dispose of the things we no longer want. The recent popularity of hoarder tv shows, with their stories of families ruined by obsessive pilers and less sensational documentaries such as The Story of Stuff, seems to bear out the presence of a growing angst with our consumptive ways.
This kind of anxiety or guilt is not new, but it‘s most current iteration is spurred by the almost wholesale shift toward cheap disposable goods and packaging that has occurred in the last few decades. The sheer accessibility of stuff has meant that the challenge of disposing of it, is ever present.
I was struck by this unpleasant fact, several years ago while traveling by public bus through northern Guatemala. Crammed for hours on a re-purposed school bus with traveling locals and occasional livestock, I observed an eye-opening routine. Every hour or so, the rickety bus would stop at the side of the highway, where it would be rushed by a dozen or so merchants yelling out prices and dangling tamales, candies, nuts, and other edibles in front of the windows. Usually, one or two of the lucky sellers would end up on to the bus and then would walk up the aisle with a large jug of Orange Crush soda, calling out “Bebidas, bebidas, bebidas”. If someone voiced an interest, the woman would pull out a clear plastic bag from her pocket, fill it with orange pop, add a straw, tie a knot and bam! – instant drink. Continue reading