This social experiment is coming to an end and I’ve spent the last 3 days plotting Saturday morning’s breakfast. Coffee – lots of cream and sugar. Then off to Naval Bagel for their multigrain everything bagel, toasted with lox spread. Yup – this is the fantasy right now.
The food I bought is nearly gone. I decided that I would “barter” my way into the final day as I was left with a can of corn, half a can of tuna and rice. So my can of corn has been traded for another banana and some ramen noodles. Those ramen noodles sound delicious right now.
I did math and I averaged about 900-1000 calories a day. Since Monday, I’ve lost 2 lbs – or at least that’s what the scale at the gym says. According to the various charts – someone my size (and I’m on the very petite size) needs about 1200 calories a day. For a sedentary lifestyle.
I haven’t been “starving” this week, but I have been hungry. That funky afternoon feeling we get when we need a snack to get us through the rest of the day until dinner. Except that feeling has been with me since Monday night. Monday was also the day I realized that I had given up (accidentally) my caffeine. I realized it about 3 pm – that the small amounts of caffeine in my decaf green tea weren’t completely negligible.
And quite frankly at 6 pm that night I was ready to just send my donation in and say didn’t make it. Then the headache subsided and I kept going. And I’m glad I did – because I learned a few things.
First – this experiment is totally doable. It’s not comfortable but it’s doable. For a short period of time. It’s not sustainable.
Second – this experiment is more emotional than physical. Yesterday someone asked me if I would let my kids do this experiment. Before I could even think, I responded no way. Now granted they are elementary aged – and with more thought, I could or would let them try it for a day or maybe two. But under no circumstances would I let them do the full 5 days.
Third – this experiment created an interesting dynamic with friends and co-workers. People were very encouraging but also offering to buy me lunch so I could get around spending money. Thinking back my response should’ve been “no thank you, but if you’d like please donate my ‘lunch’ money to the cause”. Instead I declined saying I didn’t think it was in the spirit of things for me to find a way around it.
Someone else asked me did I think these challenges would do anything. It’s not a big impact that’s for sure. And yes it is weird to think of Ben Affleck (and other stars) trying the same challenge when they have tons of money they could just throw at the problem. Sadly, the commentary on so much of these types of things – people make it about socialism or political divisiveness, or even just national versus international aid.
But to me, it makes a difference – that this week I spoke up and said yes I’m doing this and the reason is to raise awareness about poverty. This week for a brief moment, I had a small inkling of what it might mean to be a mom that has to make decisions about food for her children under the worse conditions I can imagine.
Never once this week did I wonder about the quality of water that I was drinking. I had power to run the stove and microwave and dishwasher and refrigerator to hold my precious leftovers. I didn’t have to make a choice about the medication I need to take daily. I knew at the end of this experiment there is in my freezer and pantry the pizza, macaroni and cheese and mahi mahi fillets that I’ve been trying not to look at this week.
The week will have made an impact on me. No – it won’t stop my occasional $7 lattes. But it will make me conscious of those who have less – much less. It will remind me that contributing time and money to causes and challenges like Live Below the Line that look to end hunger and poverty, it’s something I need to be more aware of and support. 5 days on $1.50 – or take two cases of water or vegetables or whatever to the homeless shelter. Simple, small ways to say to some one here – don’t worry about this part of your day, we’ve got you covered.
Because at the end of the day, I’ll never truly understand what it’s like to be starving. Because as small child, I was covered under WIC and there were people looking out for me. Because in the end this Buckminster Fuller quote kept coming to mind:
It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a ‘higher standard of living than any have ever known.’ It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary and henceforth unrationalizable as mandated by survival.
Is it really a sacrifice for me to donate small amounts of food or money so that someone else can get through the day a little easier? If it’s not a huge sacrifice – if it’s as easy as surviving on $1.50 a day for only 5 days – then why not do it a little more often.