Urban Adaptation

Sustainable urban living, rural dreams, and daily change for a homemade life.

From there to here – part one

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As I move further into trying to build a more sustainable life, and further into balancing those actions with my work (which is, as so often the case, the reason for yet more silence around these parts), I’ve recently gotten to thinking about how it was that I found myself where I am today, not just in the practical sense, but also in the sense of how I’d come to my current sets of beliefs, desires, and habits around the ways in which I want to live my life.

I was always a highly sensitive child (I am now simply a highly sensitive adult who is much better able to cope with the constant stimulus of living life).  One of the earliest things I remember feeling, and feeling in that deep-down, visceral, almost tangible sense – was a huge sense of dismay at the incredible unfairness of the world, and especially the incredible unfairness that somehow there were people out there who simply never had enough to eat.  The mere mention of children starving in Africa or stories of food banks on the radio would leave me with misty eyes and the threat of tears.

A later memory that has always lingered came from some volunteer work.  As a girl guide (Canada’s girl scouts), volunteer work was required for certain badges.  I was around 11, I believe, and every week for one morning my mother would drive me to the food bank where I would put together bags of food, based on a set criteria, for those who needed them.  On the whole, it wasn’t traumatic – unlike the current situation, most people just needed something to tide them over until their next payday in a few days, or had hit a bit of a rough patch.  But one day as we were leaving, we saw a man who I had helped sitting on the lawn, eating a prepackaged cup of applesauce.  My mother turned to me and, very casually, mentioned that it must be hard to be so hungry that you couldn’t wait to get home.  I don’t know that that was the case here.  Perhaps he had eaten that morning, and wanted a snack.  Perhaps he wanted to enjoy the warm day and the sun on the lawn.  But the comment hit me like a fist to the stomach, and it has stayed with me ever since.

I’ve run across many stories and situations since then that have made me feel the same way, and that have stayed with me long term.  This is something that is nearly always in the back of my mind, and I still find it unfathomable that we live in a world in which there are people who are always, perpetually, painfully hungry.  As a result, this is something that informs the way that I try to live my life – not wasting, eating lower on the food chain, spending less so I can donate more, and generally trying to be responsible when it comes to food, since I have the privilege of having resources, and believe that they should be used as wisely as possible.

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Written by Jenn

January 30, 2011 at 6:16 pm

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