August 9, 2011 § 1 Comment
A jewelry designer I work with had her things stolen in LA this week. We met yesterday, and she impressed on me how good it has been for her to be forced to start over. “I really am stronger for it,” she said. “It’s made me conjure up inner strength. It’s made me focus on my core. I lost everything! My camera, my laptop, all my business info. But, really, I’ve come to a place of acceptance – and there is strength there.”
Between her, and a TIME article I read on Mark Zuckerburg, I’ve been caught up on the idea of “eliminating desire.”
Lev Grossman writes,
One of the interests Zuckerberg lists on his Facebook page is “Eliminating Desire.” “I just want to focus on what we’re doing,” Zuckerberg says. “When I put it in my profile, that’s what I was focused on. I think it’s probably Buddhist? To me it’s just — I don’t know, I think it would be very easy to get distracted and get caught up in short-term things or material things that don’t matter. The phrase is actually ‘Eliminating desire for all that doesn’t really matter.’ ” (Read the rest of the article).
My bank account is low, and I’m not sure how moving is going to work. I’m waiting on a lot of things. I’m hoping on a lot of things. But then, I read things like my friend Gina’s reason for donating to our Tipping Bucket Campaign this morning, I meet with people like this jewelry designer, and I come back to eliminating desire for the things that don’t really matter – the extra clothing, the cup of coffee out instead of the cup of coffee at home, the Odwalla smoothie I could pick up instead of putting fresh fruit in my blender, the highlights I don’t really need for my hair – the night out for sushi with Jeremy that just isn’t our budget anymore.
Gina wrote, “I gave because I have cupboards full of food and a closet full of clothes.”
That’s the key to eliminating desire, I think. It’s saying that, “what I have is enough.” It’s making do. It’s not looking beyond present need.
I have a lot. I get to move to my new favorite city, with all my favorite things. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen when I moved home to run the Nakate Project. But it really is starting to take off, and I couldn’t be more excited. I get to pack boxes full of clothes. I am moving in with Margaret and her family, who have graciously offered me a way cheaper room than I could find ANYWHERE else until I can afford to move elsewhere. I know I will never go hungry. I know I can afford rent.
In the midst of moving, I’ve been intensely aware that Nakate could suffer if I am not careful. I don’t want to cut down what I give because I haven’t effectively eliminated my own desire. I’ve thought about this a lot as I began to pack and think through expenses incurred this month. I’m scrounging for my bills. My (other) job doesn’t start till September. How am I going to do this? How am I going to send more back than usual, when I have less to work with than usual? I’ve been focusing, a lot, on how to do that.
My desire to send more back than usual was sparked by a recent email from a friend reporting back on our progress in Kakooge:
Kagooge was a swamp the first day I visited. A day and a half of rain left the village floating in mud.
Everyone seemed covered in it and no one was smiling. Pastor Agnes described the entire town as a
sick drunk little village and my experience there easily confirmed what she said. I saw a two year old
girl who was the size of a six month old and still unable to walk. I saw old women bed ridden in tiny
huts, malnourished children wandering half naked, women struggling to survive, and the men drinking.
Mostly, I saw despair and hopelessness. But then I got to meet Margret and Saudah. Margret helps to
train the women who are new in the Nakate project. The joy and energy expressed in her face is such
a contrast with the people around her. With the money she has earned from the necklaces, she has
started a business selling shoes and bought a calf and pig. Saudah is only twenty-five and was one of
the last Nakate women I met. She lives alone because her Muslim family has abandoned her because of
her new faith in Christianity. The right side of her abdomen is swollen because h liver is enlarged and she is having
trouble with her heart. The Nakate beads are the means by which she supports herself. I don’t know
how to describe the difference in the faces of the Nakate women and other women in the village. The
Nakate women are still struggling to survive in the harshest of circumstances, but their faces reflect the
hope that is changing their lives.
I am aware, as I pack that I have so much more than the women I am partnering with. To be a woman, halfway across the world, getting emails asking for clothing, for quick delivery on this month’s payment because women are waiting to pay their children’s school fees – to get to be a part of this global crisis in some small way – is astounding. I just couldn’t handle my move putting a lid on progress. These women have desire for things they need. All other desires have been eliminated for them.
Enter Tipping Bucket. We are trying to raise $2,000 in funds for women in Uganda in just 4 days and 12 hours (now 3 days and 16 hours). Tipping bucket is a crowd funding platform we applied to get into months ago. Tipping Bucket is based on the idea that even a very small donation can help to make a large difference.
Tipping bucket is the reason I was lying awake at 4:50 am this morning, thinking about today – and the funding platform we need to reach. The way the site works, you either make your goal, or everyone gets their money back. Right now, 3 days, 15 hours and 22 minutes left to make $1409.
We are sending $40 to 40 women with families in Kakooge, a larger number and price tag than we have in previous months. We are sending the remainder to the woman who oversees our program on the ground (also Ugandan), and those who are helping to pack up and ship out our new order.
I believe in this week. I believe that when this many people get together to give back to women in need, things happen. Things change. The world starts changing.
Together, as we eliminate desire, I believe we can give to those who truly need.
I believe that kind of living is what binds us all together.
Donate your dollar here.