On commerce and happiness

Blue sky: is anything more beautiful? Maybe pouring rain after a drought, then that sweet, wet, earthy perfume from life-giving water greening the grass and coaxing the flowers to bloom. Or sunset over the Southern Ocean? Golden orb caresses horizon, daubing cloud streamers of crimson, ruby, scarlet, amber and tangerine.

Still able to channel nature, we connect with the primal elements as they were before humans began to refashion them. Urban pagans celebrate solstices. Witnessing birth’s miracle, seeing an elephant in the wild, looking in the right place when a whale breeches, gazing at the mountain’s peak: those are primal joys.

Battling in the hard angular career-ambition cauldron, long months of toil are rewarded with brief escapes only accessible by heavy hits to the all-important plastic. Lives measured by Key Performance Indicators and lived in artificially lit cubicles burn bright then flicker and die, often disconnected from nature. Immeasurable effort fuelled by questionable diet is channelled for the briefest moments of pleasure.

The natural world with its russet, duck-egg blue, emerald green and burnished gold is still there. We need to remember where to look for the morning dew on the fresh orchard-picked pear, the floral bouquet, the zesty orange, plump vine-ripe tomato, the honest face of the farmer who has coaxed them from soil. Connection to an older, more human interaction offers healthy eating, but so much more.

Happiness is an elusive inconstant. Toddlers frolic in the fresh morning air by the gardens and on the green lawns of our market without artifice, truly in every moment. A little girl stubs a toe and cries in desolation. Moments later she shrieks with delight, totally happy in that instant. How often do you see that in the supermarket aisles?

The market humanises commerce: when do you interact with a checkout operator, except when objecting to registers not recognising advertised specials? The market educates: kids see the dirt still on the carrots; they meet the kitchen goddess who made the cake. It’s the shopping centre where everyone knows your name. Happiness happens.

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