In the Fall of 2013 I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain. In a journal I kept I wrote about a day I spent wandering through Madrid. I ended up going through the Plaza de Lavapiés and stopping at a supermarket located somewhere in this area. I went inside with the intention of buying some juice. There was a slanted rolling-sidewalk type escalator in which I stood as I went towards the lower level of the store listening to the elevator music playing in the background as I noticed a person on the opposite escalator thing going in the opposite direction from that in which I was headed. At this moment I was more aware of my surrounding than I had been in a long time. I was noticing how ridiculous the things I do sometimes are– how ridiculous the world in which I find myself sometimes is.
I strolled down many aisles until I finally found juice. Then I was viewing too many juices. I did not know which one to pick. There was orange and orange with pineapple and orange with apple and apple with strawberry and strawberry with banana and so many more combinations. When I finished with the aisle there was a back wall with more juice and I knew that there was probably a cooler somewhere with even more juice. I now remember the juices that I did not notice; those I have seen in other stores. Juices that claim to be made with the freshest ingredients, imported from far away places, those that are organic, those that are homemade, those that are full of anti-oxidants; so many claims, so many options. In the store in Madrid I chose to look at just the orange juice. There was still an overwhelming amount of options to choose from. I noticed that there was orange with pulp, orange without pulp, orange in plastic containers and in glass bottles. Orange juice in small juice boxes, in bigger juice boxes, in cans, in so many forms. I bought the cheapest juice before leaving the store.
The amount of juice in this store seemed ridiculous; yet, I am often faced with many juice options at every store I go. Prior to my day wandering, I had never taken the time to think about how odd it is to have so many options. I sometimes go into stores with the intention of buying juice and leave empty handed because I did not find the juice I wanted. I repeat, with so many options, I did not find the juice I wanted. This is silly. How did I manage to not find the juice I wanted in a sea of many options? I’ve become loyal to a brand or a type and fail to realize that that there is another juice in the store that probably tastes the same. A century ago the amount of options we had for orange juice was smaller. If I were to go back a couple centuries I wonder if I’d notice that some people prefer orange juice made from oranges from a specific tree– or maybe some prefer orange juice made by a specific person. This loyalty to an option is likely not a new thing; but, I believe that the amount of options we have is probably greater than it was in the past. In our globalized world we are faced with more options for everything. More options for juice, clothing, music, religion, automobiles, etc., There are many cheap options and many expensive options. All around there are many options; but, we seem to remain unsatisfied. I have heard people say that they wish stores carried even more variety. Are options standing in for some void we feel? Are we more satisfied when we choose the ‘correct’ option? Would I, and other people in my situation, feel more satisfied if given more options?