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Having It All Can Give You A Stomachache

How We Behave at the Feast --

When Ezra Wagner sold his woodlot, it was the talk of The Coffee House. Local folks wanted to know who purchased the property and what they planned to do.

Agnolia was working the day the new owners of Ezra's woodlot stopped at The Coffee House. When a couple Agnolia had not seen before approached the counter, Agnolia introduced herself. The couple reciprocated. Soon Agnolia learned they were Claire and Gerald Rathborn, the new owners of Ezra's woodlot. The Rathborn's had made "a fortune" in an Internet venture. They had a 26 room home outside of Boston; an 18 room "cottage" on the cape. They had purchased Ezra's woodlot because they "needed to get away." Claire complained that their architect just didn't understand why they needed a 12' by 18' walk-in-closet for "all the cold weather clothes and things" and how difficult it was to work with workmen who had no vision. Gerald complained about the lack of cable Internet access and how hard it was to find a good hotel suite in the area.

When the Rathborns left, Sally, a regular customer, looked up from her book and said, "Those people should read this book, How We Behave at the Feast: Reflections on Living in an Age of Plenty. They have so much and are so unhappy. They are disappointed by the expectations they establish." Reminds me of what the author wrote in his piece, "The Watched Pot"-

Alexander Pope once suggested we add a ninth beatitude that would read: "Blessed is the man who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.". . . the British writer G. K. Chesterton . . . put a more optimistic twist on it: "Blessed is he that expects nothing, for he shall be gloriously surprised."

Looking up from the book Sally said, "Those folks will never be gloriously surprised, and they will probably continue to be miserable." Which reminds me of another piece in the book. In "Take All You Want, but Eat All You Take" the author tells about how, as a child, he piled his plate to overflowing at an 'all-you-can-eat-buffet.' After cleaning his plate, the author left the table 'with a miserable stomachache' and learned 'gluttony is its own punishment.' and that 'You can't celebrate, sing, or sleep with an overstuffed stomach.'

Putting the book down Sally said, "I wish the Rathborns would read How We Behave at the Feast. Maybe they would learn that happiness does not come from having plenty in the age of plenty."

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