Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Reality Check

I think I've made it pretty clear that my internship is No Fun. Basically, I work for a nonprofit that does a lot of good things for the world but I am stuck in a department that is incredibly inefficient and overly bureaucratic.  There isn't anywhere near enough work to fill the 40 hours a week that I am supposed to be there. And the work I do get is boring.

BUT as I said, the organization is actually a really cool one and has important projects all around the world, which I try to keep in mind when I'm climbing the walls of my cubicle and cursing my boss.

A hot topic around the office lately has been the Horn of Africa crisis. People are trekking for weeks to get to refugee camps because of drought and famine, showing up with emaciated toddlers, or burying their dead kids along the way. Part of my job is sifting through photos and case studies from the field for use in published materials to donors and press releases and stuff like that. I do this kind of project all the time and it's usually boring to the max, but this is different.

This is real starvation. Not my brand of self-induced, premeditated, meticulously regimented calorie restriction with a refrigerator full of fresh food in the next room - but real, inescapable starvation. Bobble-headed babies with their ribcages sticking out and toothpick arms. People who would eat to survive if only they had the luxury. People who are starving to death because there simply isn't any food.

I'm not sure where this post is going, other than to point out how jarring a little jolt of reality can be. Millions of people would kill for a fraction of the food that I have at my fingertips, and I still choose to count out my grapes because eating one too many would be catastrophic.

Perspective? Are you out there?

I cling to my ridiculous obsessions and rituals like my life depends on them, but it doesn't. My life is pretty perfect most of the time, when you get right down to it, and babies are starving without even getting a chance.  Not exactly an appetite booster, but it definitely shuts me up when lunchtime rolls around and the internal debate (does this bread have X or X + 10 calories per slice?) begins.

1 comment:

  1. I'm fresh out of spending time in the rainforest, dealing mostly with people from small indigenous hamlets, and I totally identify with your sentiments on this issue. I see people every day barely able to scrape together enough rice to feed their children, while at home I have a fucking panic attack if I think I ate X too many grams of something for the day. They stress over whether they'll have enough money for gas to get to work so they don't have to walk a dozen kilometers each way, and I obsessively track my distances on the equipment at the gym in case I haven't done "enough."

    Perspective is harsh sometimes, but in a healthy way, I think. I've been following the news about developing crisis in Africa (well, the one of Africa's crises that is getting the most attention right now, that is), and it definitely causes a lot of re-evaluation of my hang-ups. Feel you on this one.

    It'll take me a while to get caught up on blogs, not even back in the U.S. yet. Hope you're doing ok this week! <3