2.12.2009

Variety: Overspiced?

This morning, I'm feeling overwhelmed by variety. Riding Caltrain and chuckling at a David Sedaris essay, I glanced out the window as we cruised through Hillsdale station and past what must be the largest Barnes & Noble in California. Thousands and thousands of square feet of books books and more books. Glancing down at mine, I wonder how many I'll read in my lifetime. I'm goal-oriented to a fault, so instead of feeling excited about the endless options, I am cursed with the understanding that I will never read them all. I will never finish. I may not read the books that occupy even one row of the hundreds of rows in that store. Granted, there are duplicates within those walls, but think of all the books that Barnes & Nobles doesn't have in stock. Think of the floors and floors and rows and racks at the public library. (and there are quite a few public libraries in San Francisco - nay - the world!)

The last time I remember feeling this sense of doom was during my brief time living in New York City. Operating on a shoestring budget, I would rarely eat out, but when I did I always wanted to try a new venue, hoping that maybe one day I could say I'd dined at every single restaurant in New York. But the more I considered this, the more it because clear I would never achieve it. There were thousands and thousands of restaurants in Manhattan alone, several on every block. These thousands were regularly replaced or supplemented with new eateries. Staring at the pages and pages of tiny font in the yellow pages, I felt defeated. Were I to eat out for every dinner for the rest of my life (roughly 20,000 evenings, I calculated) I might knock off every restaurant in New York at this very moment, but certainly not the many others that would come and go in those years.

Perhaps it's the realization that I'll never eat at every restaurant, read every book, travel to every city, hear every song, and see every film that keeps me ordering from the same Chinese delivery joint, watching Bravo marathons I've seen a thousand times, listening to Band of Horses on repeat and rereading my favorite Sedaris essays. Variety can be stifling. And if it ain't broke...

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