It’s Hard Not to Eat the Cake

A friend brought over a cake. Not any ordinary cake, but a cake wheel. A Danish wheel with cherry, apple, and cream cheese sections alternating between crumb cake spokes. (Panera Bread Co. calls it a Pastry Ring.) It was the size of an extra large pizza, and arrived in a windowed box with a gizmo in the middle to keep the precious contents from getting smooshed.

Since Sunday, we’ve been whittling away at this cake/pie. I’ve wanted to throw it away to remove the temptation, but I hate to waste. People are starving, you know. People would kill for a slice of this pie. Therefore, it is my duty to eat it and appreciate it—for their sake.

Meantime, I’m going against one of the principles of living I learned in Outward Bound School: Sensible self-deprivation.


We are hoping to book a budget vacation. Now, when some people hear “budget vacation,” they think of Holiday Inns, rental cars, and rollerboards. But we plan to get gritty. It’s the only way we can afford a beachfront location and lodging large enough for the lass to sleep in a separate room, so she can nap in the dark twice a day and hopefully keep to 9½ hours sleep overnight.

We’re even willing to give up hot water.

Where we’re looking, I’m assured, the water is reliably warm. It’s passively heated by the sun on the roof—typical in Latin America, and, I learned yesterday talking with a friend in Israel, typical in Jerusalem. Typical in many parts of the world.

Ten years ago, I lived without any hot water for 8 months in Nicaragua. Then I hit a wall and moved to a motel with electric hot water for my last month in Matagalpa.

Every three days, I’d boil a large pot of water, transfer it to a bucket, lug it back to my room, and take a “bucket bath,” combining the boiling water with either rain water collected in oil drums, or water diverted via rubber tubes from ice-cold mountain streams. Washing my face in the morning brought a cold shock that felt like a defibrillator jolting my heart into a frenzy.

I swore I’d never do that again.

In an earlier post, I theorized about a five-day acclimatization period, but I never got used to the shockingly cold water of Nicaragua’s northern highlands.


Where are you practicing sensible self-deprivation? What temptation do you find hard to resist?

“The best things in life aren’t things.”  ~ Art Buchwald

Do you believe it’s beneficial to reduce your personal consumption? Are you like me, believing that but not doing enough about it?

Camping is a great exercise in self-deprivation. The wilderness experience improves everyday life. It builds confidence, because you come back knowing

if the shit hit the fan and you had to live without luxury, you could.

So, when considering the budget vacation, I look at it this way: If we were camping, we wouldn’t have any running water. Which makes warm water look like a luxury in comparison. We also wouldn’t have a maid, a cook, a masseuse, and a nanny.

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Appendix A

Kurt Hahn, founder of the Outward Bound School, set forth these twelve principles for living:

(1) active curiosity

(2) tenacity and pursuit

(3) undefeatable spirit

(4) sensible self-denial

(5) compassion

(6) sense of community and holism

(7) physical fitness

(8) dynamic leadership

(9) open and effective communication

(10) intercultural understanding

(11) knowledge and respect for the natural environment

(12) self-respect

About MommyTheorist

Editor, writer, photographer, and new mom
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1 Response to It’s Hard Not to Eat the Cake

  1. Jamie Drake says:

    Seems like I try to live by this theory every day, but also seems most days I can’t seem to live up to my own diminished expectations. I’ll keep striving to do less for myself, but accept more.

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