Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm going to skip the explanation/excuses for why I haven't posted in months, because none of them are interesting or valid, so I'm sparing myself the wasted energy and you the wasted time. Besides, I'm pretty sure I've done away with any readers I may have once had by smothering any hope that I would post on this blog again.

So I've been participating in a little experiment over the last week, and will attempt to continue this experiment over the next three weeks. One of Andy's fellow teachers challenged us (and everyone else he has any influence with) to cut back significantly on our food allowance, with a two-fold purpose in mind. The most forthright purpose is to donate the money we didn't spend on ourselves to the Heifer International organization, which gives families a sustainable gift (usually an animal) as a means of becoming more self-reliant. The less measurable second intent of this project is to realize what it means to survive on $1/day, as much of the world does.

A few weeks ago, before we had heard about this idea, something reminded me of one my favorite family quotes. I think Daniel was about 3 when he used to say this, and the frankness of it always made us laugh. It always applied to food, and it was usually in reference to something favorite, like candy. My mom would give him what she deemed the appropriate amount, and he would more often than not contest that she hadn't given him enough and ask for more. Not one to be swayed by begging, my mom would firmly explain that she had given him what she thought he needed - enough. At this point, he would become quite emotional and say "I know mom, but I want too much!" This had the effect of laughter on anyone in the near vicinity, though it didn't seem to work on my mom. I'm not sure what brought this memory back to me, but it hasn't really left my mind since then. There have been several times that I consciously tell myself I need something, like new sandals, or a cute summery shirt, or a tall cup of caffeinated goodness. But really, I don't need much of anything. I know this, and I sometimes comfort myself by just knowing this and buying it anyway. But this past week, I realized I have completely lost touch with what I need.

I haven't exactly figured out what it is I really do need to survive, and since I live in America, I am virtually guaranteed that I will never have to find out. But I have nailed down for a fact that I consistently want more than enough, in ways that go far beyond the bounds of food and basic necessities of life.

On a more basic level, I've also figured out that for $1/day, rice and beans are your very good friends.

4 comments:

Casi said...

I never lost hope....and alas... a new blog post! I had to rub my eyes to make sure they weren't playing tricks on me when I saw April 21st at the top of the page!I thought- that's today!! :)
It's a lot to think about, isn't it? What do we REALLY need to survive?
Did you decide that me treating you to Chipotle is cheating? Isn't it the same as Andy's teacher friend's neighbors giving his family food? :)
I know I've told you this, but I really admire that you guys are giving this a try.

Ang said...

Nelly,

It was so fun to see you...though it was way too brief. Just seeing your face was a really lovely surprise. I had to leave before the service was done to feed Sophie, but I wished we could have talked. I think to make up for the years that it has been...we'd have to spend a lot of time to really feel that it was enough. Actually I would like more than 'enough'

...I'd like 'too much' :)

I love that you finally posted. And with this post, you made it worth the wait. I don't always click my link to your blog. But I'm really glad I did today. It was by far the best read tonight.

Please don't wait another seven months to post again.

-ang

Anonymous said...

you and Andy could start having cabbage soup everyday! That's Charlie's family eats in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Your post makes me feel more content about the fact that I never have any money to buy new clothes : )

Hancock Handyman, or Nanuk of the North said...

So is that $1 a day per person or per family?

I think I would go for bread, but I'm not sure a flour mill and an electric oven could be had for $1 a day.

I'm guessing those aren't baked beans, either. Still, a little (ok a lot) of seasoning goes a long way.

I think this would be a good experiment. Until recently our family of four lived on a grocery budget of just over $5 a day. This proved slightly inadequate, but Rachel did an amazing job making it work. I think we're up to almost $10 a day now and we eat very well. Of course that's over twice your limit if it's per person.