It's taken me weeks of begging and cajoling, but I finally get to welcome as guest author to the blog the real star of the No Impact show, my best friend and wife Michelle. The poor woman has just weaned herself off decaf as the last move into our entirely local food diet, so please give her a warm welcome!
A few months ago, when we moved into the local food stage of
No Impact, we gave up coffee.
I had given up so many deep and frivolous loves at that
point. The #1 at McDonald’s. The Karen Zambos Sample
But the withdrawal from caffeine slayed me like no other. It felt as if my head were in some sort of NASA anti-gravity chamber, lacking appropriate helmet gear and such. Would my head pop off? I did not know. I felt snappy, surly. I fought the great caffeine-off for three days, and then, in the twisted logic of the addict, cooked up what was to me a perfectly rational—no, make it a perfectly gorgeous--prison break. Yes, I would give up caffeine. But I would also pick up decaf. The system can only take so much change. It would have to be about increments for me.
Decaf! Oh, how I adore you. You pick me up when I am down; you wind me down when I am up. You are my friend in terror, my highball in deprivation, my mental nightcap…my one special thing. Soon I was blowing through five iced quad DECAF espressos a day.
Here is a truth about the No Impact Family. Colin is a Zen man who disappears into the woods for ten days of meditating silence. He was made for this project. He is No Impact. I, on the other hand, am ALL IMPACT. Thus it is I who is the resident slip and slider, the recovering consumer who grows weak. Colin creates all his own rituals. Mine come from Corporate America, in lots and lots of packaging. I am loathe to admit that I actually feel sadness at the prospect of not being able to scooter into Starbucks at 31st and 6th Avenue tomorrow morning see my girls (you girls are the best. Howard Schultz should anoint you. I love you girls!).
No Impact is a great ritual imploder. It’s about a lifestyle redesign, giving up what I think I can’t to see if something different, something better, emerges. My last iced quad was at 10:20 p.m. on Saturday. On my last run, I blew through a $25 Starbucks gift card in less than 24 hours. I felt addled, brain wheezy. The next day I took long naps. I dreamt of decaf. It’s two days in and all I want is iced decaf. As in, a kegger full. What is a gorgeous sunny day without iced decaf? An early-a.m. walk with the dog without decaf?
Yet, there is also this: What a lot of work servicing my habit was. I was always thinking about how to cadge my next decaf. A friend, a scientific Ph.D sort, once told me that the process of making decaf involves the same ingredient used in dry cleaning fluid. Oh dear. So many of my rituals were so bad for me (my health), for us (our bank account and all the family time lost to my scurrying off to cop), and for the environment. So two days in and I am sad. I am also relieved.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.