$2,000. That is the amount of bills that arrived in the mail this week. With them came four pieces of mail from the respective charities that I support, two domestic and two international, all asking for money. I also work for a charity, which is code for I care more about what I do than what I earn. At the moment caring is becoming financially taxing. I have looked at my budget five times today, each time hoping that my poor maths skills have meant I have somehow missed a zero or a comma and that my finances aren’t as bad as I think they are.
I start to strategise about how I can possibly reduce my expenditure. I could give up chocolate. Yeah I know I laughed out loud at that suggestion too. I could cut back on my social life, but I already did that last year. I tried going without heating for a few days but now have a cold. It annoys me that as I sit in my comfortable two bedroom rented apartment and slowly sip on my homemade (ok fine it is from a can) pumpkin soup that I am thinking about money and feeling sorry for myself when I every time I close my eyes I see the faces of people I have met in India, Ethiopia and Senegal that have so much less.
Guilt is an odd thing. Moral justification is even stranger. There are all kinds of counseling tools that they give aid workers to help manage the paradoxes we see, hear and live everyday. Nine out of ten times they work. That one time though, that one time keeps you up at night.
It’s not all miserable of course. I have managed to find enough money for a short holiday in Malaysia and even splurged on a new pair of jeans since my current pair has developed a hole in a rather awkward place. And catch up TV does provide good entertainment for sleepless nights. I just have to keep focused on what this is all about. So I’ll make myself another cup of tea and have a piece of chocolate, watch some mindless cartoons and trust that tomorrow my calculator will allow one and one to equal three.