This summer, author and journalist Christopher Hitchens suspended his latest book tour to undergo treatment for esophageal cancer. He wrote of making a journey “from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady.”

Esophageal cancer or not, each of us, whether we know it or not, make many such journeys in our short time here on earth. Some of us, for example, stumble out of the “country of the well” and into the land of dollar slots, scratch offs and bankruptcy. Others wake up to find themselves in the land of unemployment or — sometimes worse — perpetual underemployment. There are lands of alcoholism; sexual obsessions; marital infidelity; male pattern baldness; unreasonable expectations; incontinence;  living one’s life through one’s children; covetousness; and even a place of grotesque disingenuousness that purports to be “fair and balanced.”

Hitchens’ land of malady, of course, is not to be confused with the land of m’lady, a gloomy place where dowdy librarians read Sir Walter Scott and refer to their cats as “m’lady.” I myself have journeyed from the country of the well to the land where it’s okay to drink Diet Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash, a concoction that contains not only aspartame, but “Red 40” and something called acesulfame potassium.

What other lands are out there? Feel free to suggest a few.

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