Live Below the Line: Live Simply so ALL can Simply Live

You know the old saying ‘Live simply so others can simply live’ actually I don’t know if that is a saying or if I made it up… Anyway there is more to that saying than what you might first think.

The work I do with the Global Poverty Project addresses the simply live part of 1.4 billion people in the world who can’t obtain it but personally I am just as passionate about the live simply part for the opposite 1.4 billion people in the world (me and likely you if you are reading this blog…) who can choose it.

I am not going to tell people what to do but… personally I have really learnt from the poorest in the world that simple living has a lot going for it especially if you get to choose it and not live in hunger, fear, sickness or absolute uncertainty.

Anyone I have met who has visited a developing country has always said ‘the people seem so happy there’. Well they are because they have to be as there is very little else in their life to distract them from pure, humanistic and simplistic living of people, community, family and friends.

I am totally glorifying the noble savages here and making a slight mockery of poverty but there is a huge lesson in this for me. As I have slowly learnt to perpetuate the developing way of life in the developed world I have become richer for it. Less means so much more to me now and it keeps my body, thoughts, environment and community much purer and happier.

In developed countries to give me the purity of life I strive for with the most satisfaction – Live Below the Line is the best thing I have done along with hiking and cycling trips.

Like the 10km walk to the airport in Portland with this stunning sunset

For me Live Below the Line redefines how life can be in the developed world and makes those things that are so important in life that much clearer such as family, friends, community and nature – all of which are free but priceless. It really showcases to me that the best ‘things’ in life are ‘doings’ – talking, writing, walking, riding, helping, reading, learning, sharing, teaching, living!

I can’t tell people to change their life and live simply but I can do it for myself and hopefully model that less income, more time, more family, more community, more nature, more pure living is a richness that is totally undervalued and underappreciated in the developed world. If we can learn a few of these joys I am sure we will see a world where we can all simply live.

Day 27

  • Portland and on plane to New York at 11pm
  • Breakfast: porridge pancakes with my wonderful friend Julianna
  • Snacks: bread and plenty of it!
  • Lunch: onion soup broth with bread
  • Dinner: Leftovers from dine below the line – lentils, rice and quinoa

Another day of catching up on food – nailed the rest of the loaf of bread!

Another simple happy breakfast with an old friend!

Living Just Above The Line – I Think Is My Utopia

Day 25

  • Olympia, Washington State
  • Breakfast: my favourite steal cut oats, orange peel and water – cheap one so more snacks in the day
  • Snacks: ¼ banana, sunflower butter, ½ bagel
  • Lunch: lentils with dash of curry powder, 1 onion and 1 bulb of garlic (half), 1/2 yam
  • Dinner: lentils with dash of curry powder, 1 onion and 1 bulb of garlic, 1/2 yam and half a bagel

Rained non-stop, not even 1 minute break, for the whole day and I was very happy to be in a wonderful hosts house preparing for global polio eradication advocacy I will be doing in Canada this summer – a new role with Global Poverty Project!

If I could double my daily amount to $3 of food or even $5 I think I would be in utopia…

Live Below the Line has taught me so much on this journey and how to appreciate everything that little bit more and how special even the smallest things are… I love living with this appreciation but I would also like to do it where I can eat a few more fruits and vegetables.

Simple lentils and yam means so much when you have little – thats the way I like it… The bagel is pure luxury!

I can see myself Live Just Above the Line on many occasions from here on. When I did LBL last year for a month I continued to do LBL every Monday for the few months after. I think I can take it to another level this year – not by doing LBL more as I really need to put on a little weight but to live, eat and act simply, meaningfully and appreciatively.

Less if often more as you will have gathered in my posts to now but Live Below the Line has given me an avenue to pursue and enjoy it in a way that I haven’t been able to do as easily in developed contexts.

I can only encourage others to think about doing a Live Below the Line meal, day or week – anytime and then enjoy the satisfaction of it and think about how you might look at doing it on a more regular basis… or I could sell this with – save money, eat healthy and feel great about the world around you!

Everything I could ever want in life – transport, accommodation (tent) and freedom to do it…

Then to tie it all back into the Live Below the Line cause – imagine what it would mean to someone who lives in extreme poverty FOR LIFE to double their earnings… and the scary things is it doesn’t usually go into food but to education and an attempt to create access and opportunity… amazing eh – they put up with so much and are so powerful to overcome these things everyday – that is my greatest appreciation from this trip so far!

Not much but means so much – access, opportunity & the future without extreme poverty…

Environment and what WE have to learn from the world’s poorest

Day 21 – Three weeks!

  • 18km walk (10.5 miles) Seattle – Fremont to Discovery Park and back, beautiful!
  • Breakfast: small portion of corn bread
  • Lunch: oats with orange peel, banana and bran
  • Snacks: half bagel with sunflower butter and large cup of ramen broth
  • Dinner:  last of the refried beans and rice (small portion) with ¼ yam, little bit of garlic and fried onion with half a bagel

The Meal: Rice, refried beans, garlic, yam, onion & 1/2 bagel

The walk: Pink pathways in Seattle

The physical aspect of this trip is now done! As it should have been with the original plan of 1000 miles of cycling but instead I actually think it has been more demanding as I have only had one rest day in three weeks. I still have a few walks, swims and rides from here but not everyday and sick of recording them! But stats for my three weeks while eating and drinking on less than $1.50/day – Ride 447km (279 miles); Walk 182km (114 miles); Swim 6.63km (4.14 miles)

The idea of the physical stats was to simply to try and match people in extreme poverty who mainly work hard physical jobs and show how much effort they might do – but usually MORE, EVERYDAY and WITHOUT CHOICE!

The physical work that gets done in real world for those living in extreme poverty

Spending so much time on foot, bike and in the pool while Living Below the Line was always going to bring out the strong environmentalist in me…

Quite a few things have been running through my Live Below the Line head in the past two days after reading a few articles, recalling conversations and present chats with hosts.

Live Below the Line is a direct action towards living within the natural confinement of nature and our environment. Climate change I will not mention because I think it is irrelevant in the argument and too many people have opposing views. Instead I look at our natural environment and how much it can handle and its limitations, regardless of climate change.

So in the case of Live Below the Line and the way people in developing countries generally live, their impact on the environment is significantly lower than your average one white Australian brought up in Adelaide.

The idea of population going through the roof and we can’t fit everyone in the world, especially all those people in Africa is absolutely true, but here’s the thing, that is if they live like the average white Australian from Adelaide.

When you live in extreme poverty or in my case currently Living Below the Line you can only consume a very limited amount of anything – food, water, goods, etc. This is where it all comes together for me and now in my fourth week of Live Below the Line is that LBL is not about starving yourself or feeling sorry for the poor but to understand that living in simplicity is not only quite enlightening and morally enriching but it has a huge positive impact on community and environment.

Living Below the Line for an extended amount time is really teaching me that life is ‘richer’ in social interaction, community involvement and environmental sustainability.

I will make more reference to this in time but on an environmental front my emissions have been next to nothing (if I exclude how I got to North America and the flatulence from lots of refried beans).

  • The food I eat is almost entirely from local producers of basic ingredients that are affordable
  • I walk or cycle to get around as much as possible on my 1000 mile journey
  • I have not been consuming ‘stuff’ as much as normal from the humbling experience of Living Below the Line
  • My entertainment has largely been walking and cycling seeing new places
  • Even more significantly entertainment has been talking and meeting new people – learning, sharing and laughing
  • I have been connected closer to the natural (free) beauty of the world and want to keep it’s integrity more
  • I have been more susceptible to the weather but embraced it as you have to, not to alter it completely for my comfort or happiness
  • I accept whatever housing and hosting is given to me but I prefer the more simpler as it suits the lifestyle I am portraying (not saying I didn’t enjoy staying in everybody’s house because it is the people that make the experience)
  • I am forced to accept the living conditions of the day as someone in extreme poverty would have to for in the weather, income or circumstance

Two major pieces of information on environment that have been bouncing in my head are these two:

I suppose what I am trying to allude to in this blog is that it is not about us trying to ‘help’ the poor but it is also what we can learn from the poor.

I don’t ever advocate we need to bring the poor up to our way of living. I believe it is about us meeting the poor half way (or my preference closer to their half) and enjoying the immense amount of happiness and benefit it brings to ourselves, each other and our environment.

The d'Arcy Happiness & Sustainable Spectrum

Wish I could do a spectrum graph and where we need to meet the poor at place at the big smile…

Simply Enough or Simply Not Enough?

Day 14

  • 8 km of walking after being too wet for extra riding around Whistler 😦
  • Breakfast: two slices of homemade bread with ¼ banana smooshed on top
  • Lunch: leftover pasta from the night before
  • Snacks: four slices of cut apple at the Tamwood presentation and porridge pancakes
  • Dinner: half packet of instant noodles at 9.30pm after the Squamish presentation

Definitely made up for my downfall the day before with very simple eating! Also had two wonderful presentations – one at Tamwood International ESL school in Whistler and one a community presentation in Squamish with a great turn out and a fantastic vibe!

My blog title for today ‘Simply Enough or Simply Not Enough’ is a great choice of thought and living that came into my head while walking with my Live Below the Line stomach…

We kind of have two ways to look at our lives when thinking about this:

  • Simply enough – with the basics in life we can be happy and fulfilled; or
  • Simply not enough – no matter what we have we can never be satisfied

The simply not enough interpretation can only be made if we are not faced on the extreme end of poverty where you might not have enough food, water, health, education or access to your rights.

It is not by chance that this popped into me head while I am two weeks into Live Below the Line (minus the damn beef jerky from two days ago!). Live Below the Line puts you completely into the headspace of simply enougheven when you go through hunger, tiredness, frustration and the occasional delusion.

Most people would think for Live Below the Line you would be of the mindset of simply not enough BUT Live Below the Line teaches you that you can have more with less and we sometimes don’t need all these foods or things to be ‘happy’.

I have been lucky that simply enough has been my life for many years now. It is something I feel very fortunate to have achieved and not only through hardship but through real and concrete experiences and happiness.

Some of the simple things in life are usually the best. A shared meal with friends is all anyone can want really...

I am sure that more people would be happier with less – I’m not talking about caves, sticks and water to live on. It is about controlling life more, with less to control. For example – I’m bored, I’ll go for a walk; I’m hungry, I’ll have an apple; I’m stressed, I’ll work less tomorrow. I sometimes think we put ourselves into excess far too easily and often with work, time, money and satisfaction. This is starting to sounds a little Buddhist and Nirvana orientated but it isn’t a religion it is just a way of thinking, practicing and acting and receiving the rewards.

I knew Living Below the Line for five weeks and doing a bunch of physical activity around it was only going to be a positive, inspirational and learning experience for me as I continue to love more from less (just have to be careful not to excess). I am as fulfilled as I have ever been eating on less than $1.50 a day for food and factoring in some cleansing healthy activity throughout the day whilst working/volunteering/giving very rewarding Global Poverty Project presentations to schools and communities.

Maybe this is a slight rant here that sounds like it has come from someone deliberately starving themselves but it is with wonderful clarity and appreciation that I believe less is more. I also feel and live this when I am privileged to be in developing countries or perpetuating that lifestyle in developed countries with things like Live Below the Line.

House, transport and nature doesn't get any better than this - maybe a few friends. If my transport is my feet then I'm on a winner also.

Lastly it is that time where I can’t advocate this campaign enough so I really encourage everyone to take on the Live Below the Line challenge for five days May 7-11! and find your way to the Live Below the Line sign up!

This fun little video sketch is also pretty on the mark with this sort of thinking as well: The High Price of Materialism –

Am I Crazy or Is the World?

Day 6

  • 33km walk from Victoria to Swartz Bay ferry, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
  • Breakfast: oats, Mexican vanilla flavoured corn-flour, bit of bran, a few flax seeds, half a pear and boiling water
  • Lunch: ¾ cold potato and BOILED EGG (wow… saved up for an egg – sooo good)
  • Dinner: rice with 15c of beef broth and small handful of diced kale

Not sure if I have ever walked 30km and only eaten a cold potato for the whole trip – but I have now! The boiled egg on the ferry was a taste and energy explosion however. Then my lovely host in Vancouver, Jozi, had cooked me dinner within my 70c budget!

My dinner from the night before (rice and onion broth) and the potato cooked and my sustenance for the entire walk today

‘Am I crazy or is the world?’ was the theme of my walk – a lovely 33km walk from downtown Victoria to the Vancouver ferry at Swartz Bay (no swimming today).

It is Sunday, a beautiful sunny spring day on Vancouver Island, British Colombia, Canada and perfect walking temperature. I needed to get from Victoria to the ferry departure point at Swartz Bay before about 5pm. Now to me I couldn’t think of anything better than walking that distance through urban landscape, forests, coast and everything in between. Some people will think doing that is crazy but for me I think it is crazy that our society might consider that that’s crazy.

A part of the walk today that was beautiful and filled with walkers, cyclists and horse-riders - if you build it they will come and this could be our priority & maybe less highways?

The walk is purposeful, enjoyable, observational, contemplative, healthy, interactive with nature and others out on the trail and has many other positive benefits – why would I want to miss all that trapped in a machine to save me time do less purposeful things (usually no matter how important I think they are).

This is where I appreciate Live Below the Line because it slows everything down (except maybe me). Walking, cooking, talking, travelling and more. It does not waste time – the time spent doing these things is meaningful. Saving time is a great concept if you only have time to gather food for survival as you can then start to choose things like education, recreation and more, but I feel our developed world has taken it to a point that is so un-human and meaningless. Saving time becomes more important than time itself.

One of the essences of this concept of time and Live Below the Line for me is voluntary simplicity, basically ‘less is more’ and enjoying it. I love the idea of expecting and having less and being happy with that. The concept goes much further than this as it also represents a great connection to family, community, nature and the rest of the world. It is not easy for most but I absolutely love it and therefore appreciate the extra insights and skills Live Below the Line gives me.

I try not to tell people what to do and live life for myself but I can almost absolutely guarantee most people and the developed world would be happier, healthier and more humble with more voluntary simplicity in our lives. This is not about glorifying poverty just an acknowledgement of it when we are not forced into it.

I believe in not making simplicity hard, unwanted or a chore – I enjoy it and feel better for it in so many ways. This is not saying we can’t have anything or we need to live in yurts (cool), just a little contemplation on time and simplicity might be a good thing in our self-controlled but busy and complicated lives…?

For me walking is one of those great tools and I came up with this little quote on my walk:

‘The best TV shows are socks and shoes on your feet

and the stories on your street. Go for a walk and enjoy the beat!’

My Keens shoes have been walking me around for many years and are, a replaceable, but treasured possession as I know the joy and learning they give me.

Another fine spot of many along the walk

Below are a couple of resources and very cool people and organisations to check out if you think you might be keen to know about this concept of voluntary simplicity… I also have ‘Simply Happy – a lifestyle model and education project’ in proposal stage if people are keen for me to send it to them.

Samuel Alexander and Voluntary Simplicity and Simplicity Collective –

  • I have followed Samuel for a few years now as he did his PhD in this field and always has great blogs and e-newsletter

Donnie Maclurcan and a big team from the Post Growth Institute –

Michael Franti from Spearhead –

  • has been a great role model of mine for many years through his music and lyrics. I don’t follow his website much but you will be ‘richer’ from listening to him!

Other like – Buy Nothing Day, The Story of Stuff, Adbusters, The Moneyless Man, Ted Trainer, Grist and heaps more propaganda out there!

And to top it all off you must watch this clip of Bangladeshi girls from the streets in a refuge centre and I think this will make your heart sing showing that the best things in life are not things.

Big hugs from a tired, simple but very fulfilled man in this evening…

This is my enjoying walking but not quite working out how to use the camera face! Got the LBL shirt and yellow arm socks cranking as well...

I’ve Won the Lottery – everyday that is…

Why would you want to win the lottery…?

It has taken a while but I’m sure in the past 11 years I know that my happiness, well-being and security is not bound or bolstered with false hope and fortune on something as ridiculous as winning the lottery.

I fell like I have won the lottery everyday and in actual fact I have. Had I been born into absolute poverty, conflict, neglect or any of these hardships I might have been able to do the things I have chosen to do, certainly not travel the way I have and do.

‘But if I win the lottery you could help so many people…!’ Well help people anyway. You don’t have to wait till you have made your fortune before you can start to give something back to others. There is a huge amount of joy in both giving and receiving. In my experience the more you give the more you get back from the gift of giving (self-fulfilment here folks not things and money).

My theory is, live life like you have won the lottery but not dependent on ‘happy’ items and events. As the bumper sticker says ‘I want to want less’ and the less you want the more fulfilled you can be and then winning the lottery doesn’t become all that wonderful, important or necessary anymore.

To tie this back into my adventures for next month (cycling 1000 miles in North America Living Below the Line – eating on less than US$1.50/day) I know that I will have the choice of rice, oats, beans, lentils and little else but I also know I will learn to live and appreciate all of these things because it is what I will have access to. This is what people in extreme poverty also have to do but the difference is they will never have the opportunity to want because they still have needs that aren’t being serviced…

Really can’t wait for the big jump I will make along my spectrum of simplicity, learning and appreciating more from less – it is gong to be a hell of a Live Below the Line for me.

I can’t advocate or encourage enough for everyone to sign up for Live Below the Line (May 7-11). You will get: a great appreciation of how people live in extreme poverty and more than that

  • how happy you can be with less (not glorifying poverty here just showing how far beyond need we have grown),
  • the clarity of simplicity and sense of time it provides,
  • the amazing conversations you will start and
  • the inspiration you will give to others…

If it is not your bag, no worries as I am not here to tell anyone what to do but I think it is one of the best campaigns, challenges, learning experiences and reflections I have had in a developed country…

And if it is still not your bag, how bout donating to the cause to see those living in extreme poverty to live with access and opportunity so they don’t have to decide over hunger or education for their children –

Save your money on lottery tickets and put it into choosing your fortune without needing luck or a million dollars or sponsor me on my ride!


What more could anyone want or need, especially the freedom!