All Consuming

After riding though two states of flat, endless fields of corn and soybeans, I reach Chicago. Chicago, the second largest city in the country; different from others in how absolutely alluring it is. I walk down the streets and revel in the energy. What I notice, after being mostly in the middle of nowhere for a month, is the waste; the mindless gluttony. It's not even a mindful gluttony - rather, it seems to go unnoticed, taken for granted - the countless paper napkins slightly crumpled, slightly dirty, scattered along the edges of sidewalks; plastic shopping bags snagged in every chainlink fence and blowing by in the curling gust from each passing bus. What filled these bags at one time? What was served with all these napkins?

Where is it all now? We don't need most of what we have, and I wonder how things got this way. I'm certainly no exception to the attraction of consumption - even after a month on the road with only three shirts and one pair of shoes, even with this theme consciously planted in my mind, I walk past a boutique and covet, with visceral longing, the blood-red leather purse displayed in the window.