|2011-2012: Our year without jam|
Giving things up for a trial period of one year challenges us to overcome habitual, lazy thinking. People often automatically figure that they could never live without a whole range of vitally important 'necessities'. Often a 'year without' project can challenge these ideas.
There are a lot of things that inquisitive people have given up for a year in order to test themselves and their notions of what is really required for a happy, content life. There are thousands of such challenges, including going a year without:
- paying for groceries
- shopping, and
- buying anything new.
What I have never seen, is anyone that has done a year without jam, something we did over the past slightly less sweet 365 days. "Who would want to do that?" you may ask. It would be like going a year without candy (which has been done). But as crazy as it seems, we did it.
We didn't only go without our own homemade blackberry jam, we didn't buy any jam either. No jam at all.
Last year, after picking several kilograms of blackberries, we decided not to make our usual batch of jam. Wanting to skip the dreaded 4 cups of berries to 7 cups of sugar, we chose to freeze the berries instead (freeze on a cookie tray first, then transfer to a ziplock bag). We used them throughout the year, no sugar added.
Our anti-jam status was partly a result of our urge to simplify things (it is a process to make and can jam), part health consciousness and wanting to avoid the 'white death', and part wanting to see what would happen if we tried to live without our perfect preserves.
All my pampered life I have had jam on toast, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, and biscuits 'n jam. I would have thought that I would have had withdrawal symptoms when we went jamless. Or at least experienced some irritability or anxiety when we didn't get our purple sugar fix. But no - it was wham-bam-forget-the-jam, and on life went. There was no hardship, no drama. It was almost too easy.
A "year without" project usually ends up teaching us that we can live without most of the stuff we are working so hard to attain. It also shows us that we can be resilient, rise to the challenge, and be a better person going forward.
Scott Adams, after his year without fear, found that he had sustained a few more minor injuries during his project. However, they were all worth it, he said, because he enjoyed being the kind of person that does not hesitate, and says YES to life's opportunities.
During our year without jam we learned a bit more about what is really necessary in life (very little as it turns out). Also, we learned that we like to be the kind of disciplined people that can say no to pathways that do not lead to healthfulness and happiness in the long run.
Our past year may have been slightly less sweet, but it was so much more satisfying.
Emboldened by our no jam success, we now figure that we could live without a lot of other things, too. Toilet paper? Driving? Negativity? Money?
So much to give up, so much to learn, so little time.