Dangling off the tea bag like a limp kite on a windless day were these words: Whatever you are, be proud of it.
A few days later, my box of tea was empty. Like most millennials, I keep my sense of self-worth externally located and without nightly encouragement from tea bags, who knows what might happen. I rushed back to the supermarket. While on aisle nine, deciding between Throat Coat and Honey Lavender Stress Relief, it dawned on me that these little tea memos are often rooted in zen philosophy. A box of Ginger tea even instructed me to sit down cross-legged, breathe deeply, and rhythmically roll my shoulders forward in large circles.
Historically I’ve treated supermarkets with the same set of rules I use for public restrooms: Move fast and avoid eye contact. But here I was beneath fluorescent lights, the backdrop of clanking shopping carts sounding like chimes in a temple, enjoying this lesson in zen.
And that’s when I had an idea.
A supermarket could be so much more than a public restroom. It could be a nexus for enlightenment. Our country is fractured. Media fuels outrage. We’ve become a bunch of Instagram addicts who think listening to someone with a different point of view is a weakness, not a virtue. But everybody’s gotta eat. And maybe the only bridge across the political aisle is to be found in the supermarket aisle.
Tea is onto something with zen philosophy, but we need more. A carton of eggs has never told me to love myself and not once has broccoli reminded me to breathe.
The meat market could dish out relationship advice. A great place to “meat” new people. And when you walk out, much like the ham in the display case, your troubles will be cured! A little cheesy, I know, but the cheese aisle is where you learn to age gracefully. You might even find some moldy cheese over in the damaged goods section, the place where you go to learn how to deal with disappointment. And the bagel section could teach money management. Why? Because they’re made of dough, obviously! Wait ... what were you thinking?
Looking to expand your mind with cannabis and psychedelics? Head over to Baked Goods. You’ll realize that we’re all just sprinkles on a chocolate donut, and, sooner or later, we all get consumed by the same black hole.
With all this learning we’d see that we have a lot more in common with each other than we think. We all want love, belonging and a good price on almond butter. We all get annoyed with the fellow shoppers who don’t observe the 12 items or less rule and, at least once, we’ve all made the explosive mistake of shaking a kombucha on the drive home.
Back in aisle nine, I wondered if this was the greatest idea in the history of the universe. It had to be.
With entrepreneurial confidence pulsing through my temple, I splurged on both Throat Coat and Honey Lavender Stress Relief. As soon as I got home I ignited the flame beneath my tea kettle and it whistled in celebration of my genius. This was my life’s purpose: to transform supermarkets into a place of unity. I tore open the packet, sure that the inscription would deliver the perfect omen. The tag was blank. Tomorrow I’ll take it up with damaged goods.