Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Transcendentalists believe that an ideal spiritual state transcends the physical and empirical. They believe this is only realized through intuition and simplicity. Simplicity is used in the barest form of the word: some transcendentalists, such as Henry David Thoreau and Chris McCandless, lived alone in the woods in order to realize this superior state of being.

Welcome to the home of my transcendentalist mini-project. This is what I will be discussing over the next week or so:

"If, like Thoreau, you’re more into pain and suffering, attempt to simplify your life by getting back to life’s essential details. In other words, give up a possession or a few possessions that you regularly use and have significant value to you, but end up cluttering your time. Record the changes made in your life. Be honest – did you cheat and use it occasionally or borrow one from someone else? If so, what does this reveal about you? How do friends and family react to your decision to give these things up? Has it made your life any easier or is this possession really a necessity? Will you continue to limit your use of these things? What have you learned about yourself during this process? Suggestion: Begin by justifying why you chose to give up what you did and why it is so important to you. Then, go on with how the loss of this item has impacted you."

I have decided to give up Starbucks. Although it is not an actual possession, it is a material good that can be bought with money. I had actually decided before we learned about this project (which is ironic!) that I wanted to give up Starbucks for a week, both to save money and to test myself to see if I would really go through with it. Deep down I knew I would, because I consider myself a determined person. And, I surmised, a week without Starbucks would probably save me anywhere from $5-$8. What could be wrong with that?

On Monday of this week, the Week of No Starbucks officially began. I'm proud that I haven't given in yet! I've begun to realize that Starbucks isn't a necessity and that I may have started going there so much simply out of habit. I have an enormous sense of accomplishment: I realize how silly this may sound, but I am happy that I have made this decision and stuck with it. I think that it is times in which we give up something that we tap into our strength, willpower, and discipline. Take, for example, the forty days of Lent for Catholics where most Catholics choose some sort of vice to give up. Junk food, soda, caffeine, TV, video games...the list could continue forever. Although many give in well before the conclusion of these forty days, many do not. It is a test of strength and discipline, and attempts to simplify their lives so they will feel closer to God as they approach Easter. Vegetarians and vegans fall into the same category: they choose to cease eating meat (and, for vegans, any product that comes from or is produced by an animal, including honey). They may have a host of different reasons for this sacrifice, but there is one certainty: it takes strength and conviction not to sneak a slice of bacon once in awhile.

My best friend Robin is a vegetarian, which is probably the reason for her support when I told her about my decision. "Good for you!" she texted encouragingly. After all, she knows exactly what giving something up is like---for much more than a week!

My dad acted the same way. He seemed to encourage it heartily. Although he was probably surprised, he didn't show it. My mom encouraged it heartily as well, but she definitely seemed surprised!

Some people have asked me very simply, "Why?" I could see the wheels turning in their brains---Give up Starbucks? Why? WHY? When I said it was to save money and see whether I could successfully do it, some asked, "How do you even have money for Starbucks in the first place?" I think it's safe to say that they did not really understand.

Even though my decision has been met with a variety of reactions, I am certain that this decision is a good one. I have conviction and a desire to do this, and to me this is all that matters.

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