(this is from 2019… the word given was Wood and I had 25′ to write something… this was the result)

“Modern life is making me crazy,” he said apropos of nothing.

She looked up from the book she was reading, and regarded him questioningly, with one eyebrow arched high.

“One day your eyebrow will get stuck in that position and what will you do then, permanently disfigured by that expression.”

“What is making you crazy?” She asked, her eyebrow slowly returning to its neutral setting…

“Well, It’s so hard to navigate even the most simple tasks. I am working on a house for a client and we are looking into which materials to use to make the ecological footprint as small as possible. Concrete is out because it releases tons of carbon, wood is lovely but we need more trees, not less… brick or adobe are very labor intensive and expensive. So we’re looking into recycled materials, like old concrete blocks and wood from torn down buildings, but in some cases those are becoming more expensive than brand new materials because so many people are trying to go this route.”

“And what about deciding between vegetables that are organic, but highly packaged in plastic and bulk vegetables that are not organic?”

“I know!” he said, a little more forceful than necessary, “it is so frustrating! Sometimes I spend way too much time grocery shopping for that very reason.”

“But we have to eat.” Her soft tone calmed him. “I have thought about this quite a bit. For us to eat something always has to suffer, doesn’t it. Whether it is a fish or chicken or cow that was slaughtered, or the insects that were killed during the farming or harvesting of vegetables. Now we have come to that point where we suffer ourselves from eating. Pesticides, plastic, micro plastic, pollution. It’s enough to make one crazy if one thinks about it for too long.”

The room became silent for a while as they both thought about it.

“You know,” he said, breaking the silence and taking her hand, “perhaps it is a sign that too much is on offer when we spend so much time comparing. When you are hungry you don’t care about what you eat, or what materials you build your shelter from. Perhaps it is a good sign that we have the luxury of contemplating these issues. We should be thankful.”