The Profundity of Thinking Small (reaction)

July 11, 2017 | Author: Ijay Degracia Valencia | Category: Retail, Foods, Food & Wine, Business
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“The Profundity of Thinking Small” by Edilberto M. Alegre Reporter: Iluderick D. Valencia Jr. The Essay Retail sales outlet in the Philippines range from the tingi-tingi (piece-meal, selling one object at a time, e.g. not one pack of cigarette but one stick) vendors at busy urban street corners, to plush department stores in Makati and Mandaluyong. The range immediately reflects the buying capacity of the Filipinos, and eventually the despairing disparity of income distribution in the country. When price rise, re-packing activity rises too. Continuous and unbridled inflation creates smaller and smaller repacks. Garlic is now sold by clove; cooking oil, soy sauce vinegar and almost all cooking ingredients in p1-packs. It‘s like the shrinking pan de sal- inflation reduces the size of the good for sale, because the peso buys less, the peso earners must buy less: oil for one cooking dish, thread for sewing one seam, milk for one cup of coffee . There are, however, goods which cannot reduced in size or quantity. Slippers and shoes must always be sold in pairs, shirts, pants, shorts and socks cannot be re-packed as half-shirts, a ―pant‖, a ―short‖, or a sock. Nor can watches and glasses and shoes. Unlike cooking ingredients they cannot be reduced beyond what they now are. The sizes of machinery vary, but cannot be halves, and most be sold as units, computer comes in units, even when they have reduces to notebook size. So do audio visual equipment and cars. In the presentation or packaging of a product, therefore, two factors are at work: (1) the buying capacity of the customers, and (2) the nature of the product. Mentholated candies (in street-retail one brand name, Halls, serves as generic name) can be and are retailed by the piece. Small gains are good enough. A sale is a sale. The idea is to reduce all goods to their minimum unit/amount: a clove of garlic, a dab of cooking oil, one airmail envelope, one banana on stick, one ballpen, one sheet of paper, one unit of a sweepstakes ticket. We reduce objects to the barest essential – the minimum unit which still embodies its true nature, i.e. what is in its smallest size. That is littlest though it be, its integrity, (as garlic, as cooking oil, as envelope, etc.) is intact. This is why pants and shoes must sold in pairs, and ballpens, Walkmans and refrigerators as units, not as halves. Thinking small is thinking bare-bone, basic basal, essential. There is a magnificence to it—a clean-ness and neat-ness. One pushes to the barest, and in the process does away with clutter. Does away with excess, in fact. Does away with the need for the storage space. As is, where is only when and what s needed. Poverty disallows excess. Poverty necessitates dealing only with what is necessary.

Since November 1989 I have been living out of my backpack, which is now mediumsized. At first I pampered myself with books and magazines, pads of paper and pens of varied sizes and color, an umbrella, a two-week supply of clothes it was difficult to more about. What with notebooks, cameras, walkman, films and audiotapes, it was as if we‘re not on research fieldtrips. I was burdened by my own needs, much of it for comfort. Gradually, I learn how to think small, how to think bare-bone essential. First, the clothes: three days‘ change is more the enough, in the topic one changes daily. Then the writing materials: notepad, one yellow pad and two pens – that‘s enough. I only travel from four to six weeks at a time. Besides, writing materials are available in any sizable town. For reading – just one book and discardable magazine. For listening, just six tapes of Bach and four of Max Surban. Two cameras, one a back-up, and films as needed. From the Muslims I have learned to use a wrap-around-the-head (tubao, for neatness and protection), and a wrap-around-the-body (malong)—of very light cotton. The malong functions as pajamas, bedsheets or trousers. I now travel with lightly packed rucksack and a camera bag, I am down to the barest essentials. I have learned to think small. I have liberated myself from the clutter of unnecessary. Thinking small assumes the infinity of supply – and demand. One buys only the small amount of garlic, onions, tomatoes, vegetable and fish or meat which would be needed and will be consumed today. Tomorrow is tomorrow‘s problem. What are the benefits of going to market daily? Freshness of the ingredients. The joy of not knowing beforehand what one will eat that day. The elation that comes with surprise. And practice in improvisation. Nothing is fixed, except the amount for daily marketing, which one matches with what is available. If one is skillful, one has delicious meals. Little children are taken to the market to learn early the improvisation know how, often mistakenly thought to be a genetically-endowed talent. Where is the joy in having a set menu for the entire week? It may be efficient, but it is joyless. Seldom do we encounter surprise in our quotidian lives; that is why we feel that we are trudging. Chores become drudgery when they no longer contain small surprises. To think big is to make a grocery list for the week and fill up the refrigerator with many goodies. Certainly once-a-week grocery shopping consumes less time than does daily shopping. But what is ―saved‖ time spent for? To earn more money so one can purchase more goodies– to be kept cold in a second refrigerator. Our lives are sad and empty because we are not like that ‗saved‘ time. Time is not to be saved, for essentially there is no way of keeping it. There are no deposits for time. One should not bother with it, then. There are no ‗time‘ banks the way that there are banks in which money and jewelry can be deposited. Think small of time. Denigrate it till it is

no longer a factor in our lives. There is only this day. There are only three meals. There is only this amount of money. Those are the givens in which I exist. I must master these givens. Yielding is a step towards ennui. To enjoy life I must enjoy the moment—a Halls candy in the mouth, fish sinigang (sour stew) at home a-cooking, Richard Gomez and Dawn Zulueta on TV tonight. Tomorrow is abstract. Think now, think small—the way one savors moments. That‘s really the one way to taste the flavors of life—know it in its smallest integral unit, in its barest, truest form. Life is net abstract; it is concrete, moving, alive. To savor it, to experience its earned and variegated nuances, to be flesh and out of it, to go though—in the littlest pulses and smallest punches—to be truly alive daily; that is the profundity of thinking small.

Explanation In this essay Alegre tries to explain why Filipino have a large number of retail stores, ranging from sari-sari stores, takatakat boys, convenient store to plush department stores. He stated that there are two factors that affect the retail business in the Philippines, first is that it was affected by the buying capacity of the Filipino, he stated that because of the ―continuous and unbridled inflation‖ we Filipinos, creates more smaller repacks that suits the buying capacity of our ―Piso” and as he stated ―because the peso buys less, the peso earners must buy less”. But even we want to reduce all things, there are goods that we cannot buy in reduced like machinery, gadgets and clothes. We cannot buy a half shirt and just a pant. So this is another factor that affect the packaging and presentation of a product, the nature of the good. In generalization, we reduced goods to the barest unit, its most essential form. We are making things small. We are thinking small. Alegre also shares in this essay his experience in his research trip. At first he pampered himself with many things and much of it is for his comfort. Gradually he learn how to think small, how to think bare-bone essential. The reduced his things with just what he need. Three pair of clothes, a notebook, a yellow pad, two pens, etc. He is down to the barest essentials. He states that thinking small is thinking about today and tomorrow is tomorrow‘s problem. He added that time is not to be saved there are no time banks like we have for money. It should be enjoyed. We should enjoy what we have now. Think now, think small—that way one savors moment. Enjoy life, enjoy the moment. And life barest moment is now, so be alive daily; that is the profundity of thinking small

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