Every day, my email inbox fills with “daily deals” and great rates and all sorts of offers from places and businesses that at some point, I suppose I patronized.

When you shop online, you almost always have to register on the site – which ¬†automatically signs you up for a constant stream of updates. It’s a blessing and a curse – in theory, from a business perspective, it makes sense. You like the business and what they have to offer, and so wouldn’t you want more of it?

But there’s too much noise in our lives these days and those pesky emails are just part of it. ¬†And just because you bought one thing doesn’t mean you are a loyal customer for life.

Lately, I’ve been unsubscribing to everything that I don’t need. I used to just delete unwanted emails. Now I get rid of them completely. And it’s incredibly freeing.

I miss the days when you’d stumble upon a great retail outlet, stroll slowly through the shop and discover a whole new world. Perhaps you spoke to the gal at the counter or the owner and learned a little bit about how this place came to be. Maybe there was a mission, a dream behind it, and you liked a little bit more about this new horizon.

Then you’d have to take the business card or sign up with pen in hand for their mailing list. If it were near to your home, you’d vow to return and add this pleasant place to your routine. And if it were not near your home, you’d think of ways to order long-distance the wonderful offerings that you just can’t live without.

That happened to me last summer, when Eliana and I were in San Diego. We found this lovely coffee shop that sold bags of beans and loose teas. I bought a bag of ground Viennese cinnamon coffee which is almost gone. The business card sits on my desk at home, as I hope I’ll remember to reorder.

Except the mist has lifted. I’m back home. It’s just coffee. And I can buy coffee just about on every corner.

Perhaps it was the mystery of being on vacation and the wonderful gift of discovery. Unwrapping a present of experience and filing it in my memory as a place I was happy, a time I had time, an island in the bustle of everyday life.

I don’t want to be contacted by most businesses. I want to choose to contact them. I may just be old-fashioned. I want to archive my memory of experiences and flavors and purchases and decide when to go back there, when to make it a singular experience.

Maybe it’s selfish. Or maybe it’s the key to self-preservation.

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