50s grocery checkout line womanWhen the anxiety rises inside you, go stand in a line. Wait your turn at the grocery store and watch the people of your town go about some of the most mundane and necessary tasks of their lives.

See the college students, stocking up on beer and ingredients for what they fancy is a gourmet pasta meal. See the elderly and obese, confined to electronic mobile chairs, their baskets full of meds and processed fruit snacks for the grandkids. See the aging yuppies and crunchy hipster parents with their reusable bags and organic cookies.

Is there anywhere more safe? They say that to combat a panic attack, one should focus on the present. Stop the past from haunting and the future from taunting by focusing on the here and now, and maybe even doing something.

But waiting in the checkout lane is about as still as one can get while remaining in the thick of life. It’s familiar. It is safe. Everyone is busily observing their own little system within the larger organization and its rules, and you can take comfort in that structure. If you have trouble, perhaps with scanning an item, someone is there to help you, and laugh while saying “It’s alright – everyone has trouble with these.”

You can’t take things too seriously here. We’re all just trying to get our share of eggs, mac-n-cheese and frozen peas. Gotta be polite, because nobody likes running into another cart when the aisles intersect.

Where else have we all gone every week since childhood, and continued to go for most of our lives? Where else can we be surrounded by all of our favorite comfort and fancy foods? Where else are we so reminded of our good fortune at being born in a country that has an excess of food (for those with the car and money to get there)?

Stand in line, and take this all in. Where else can you be so safely, wonderfully still?

“An Englishmen, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one.” -George Mikes, Author

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