The title of this post may at first seem ridiculous. How can moderation ever be more difficult than deprivation?
But I submit to you that we Americans as a society have a hard time with moderation.
We understand how to give things up entirely. We know how to diet. We know how to save money when we get laid off. We get that the best way to get over an addiction is to abstain entirely.
But when we've lost the weight or get a new high paying job, we become unsure of how to find balance.
I can have a box of chocolates next to me for a month and I will not eat a single chocolate. If I open the box to eat just one, suddenly the box disappears in two days. It's easier to give up chocolate because after a while, you forget how much you liked it. You adjust to a chocolate-free life. But eating just one chocolate a day? Requires a level of will-power that I'm not sure I have.
When I was an eco-nut, life was easier in a way. My life was defined by the environment and my environmental choices. I gave up heat. I gave up convenient frozen dinners. I gave up air conditioning. I gave up shopping.
And gradually, that just became my life. I forgot what life was like with air con. I forgot how convenient it was to just pick up a Trader Joe's salad.
Now I'm trying to find middle ground, and yet I often worry that I'm sliding too far back. I turn on the space heater, fully intending to turn it off in twenty minutes, and then ... I don't. Because it's so lovely and warm and I LOVE HEAT. I plan to cook, but then the conference call that was supposed to last twenty minutes lasts for an hour, and I've run out of cumin, and it's raining outside.
In a way it would be easier for me to say, you know what? Screw it? I can't find moderation, so I better just abstain. But I'm not sure that's the better answer. The healthier answer. The sustainable answer.
In the comments of the post on dieting that I linked to above, one woman talked about how she craves sugar. And how she was wondering if she could have cake to celebrate her PhD or if, knowing her cravings, she should forgo the cake. And another commenter pointed out that a life in which one cannot have cake to celebrate one's Ph effin D is a little sad.
And yet, somehow, cake in moderation is more difficult to achieve than it should be.
5 months ago