abundance: n. 1. a very great quantity, usu. considered to be more than enough. 2. wealth, affluence. [ME f. OF abundance f. L abundantia]

    For I have had too much
    Of apple-picking: I am overtired
    Of the great harvest I myself desired.
    There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
    Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
    For all
    That struck the earth,
    No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
    Went surely to the cider-apple heap
    As of no worth.
    One can see what will trouble
    This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.

    –Robert Frost, from “After Apple-Picking”

A cliche: We live in a pocket of Abundance. My cup overfloweth, the Psalmist says. When does such blessing become a curse? “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,” crows the American Republic. “Shine, perishing republic,” says Robinson Jeffries, admonishing his children to keep “their distance from the thickening center” where America settles in the “mold of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire.” He wrote that eighty years ago! More recently John Updike bemoans

waste, the American waste. I find myself very disturbed lately by the fact that restaurants give you more than any sane person would want to eat, and food is packaged in bigger and bigger containers now so that you try to buy a quart of ginger ale and you have to buy a gallon of it that won’t fit in the refrigerator. . . . (quoted in Time Magazine June 2006).

Of course, these literary folk are disgusted by all of this excess because they’ve got nothing better to do with their time than to spend it looking down their Roman noses at the rest of us. They can afford to cultivate aesthetic disdain for the ordinary.

But maybe these patricians are right. After all, no one knows more about self-indulgence than they do. And now indulgence has become ordinary. The unredeemed Adam and Eve have found their way back into the garden. Can disaster be far behind?

The puritan, poet, and the wage-slave in me all despise Wal-Mart. Am I a squeamish elitist, or is there something really wrong with the CHEAPER-BIGGER-FASTER-MORE mentality?

Well, I am a squeamish elitist AND a farm boy at heart – in short, an Americun.

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