Peeling carrots in Zambia

It is in the moments of lack that I am the most creative.

Don’t have baby wipes to clean up muddy feet? Strip baby, wet dirty clothes with water bottle, wipe away mud. Brilliant!

Don’t have a book or toy for the restaurant wait? Build salt shaker towers, play guessing games with the menu, and tell stories together. Genius!

But, I live in upper-middle class America. We have plenty of wipes, books, and toys; I just forgot to pack them. We are rarely lacking in anything. Not only do we have everything we could possibly need, but almost everything we want.

What a sad state we are in. Without lack, there is no need for creativity. Without need for creativity, we forget we have the capacity to be creative.

If you’ve ever seen or used a gift registry you know that there is so. much. stuff. we. think. we. NEED. How could you get married and not receive a panini press? And it would be impossible to raise a child without at least 2 SwaddleMe blankets?  Right?

The consumeristic American lifestyle has brainwashed us. Looking over the baby and wedding registry checklists online I realize just how many of these things I have and just how many of these things I use and just how many of these things I am convinced truly are essential. But they’re not! Barely any possession is truly essential.

I will never forget being handed a carrot while in Zambia and (as a full grown, married woman) having no idea how to peel it. My host didn’t have a vegetable peeler! I hesitated awkwardly, carrot in one hand and paring knife in the other. Maybe Zambians didn’t peel their carrots…Without my kitchen drawer full of registry items, I was at a loss. Thankfully, my wonderful, patient, Zambian host showed me how a simple angling of the paring knife could turn it into the perfect peeling tool, scraping off just the carrot’s exterior layer without losing large slices of the carrot. One tool for two jobs?! Astounding!

So, I have a challenge for my fellow Americans. Let’s recapture the meaning of “need.” Go through those registry lists again or simply look around your house. Not with your “American brain” but with your “creative brain.” Look at each item and ask yourself- “Do we really need that? What could be a creative alternative?”

Then (after you retrain your brain) ask yourself these questions at the store BEFORE you buy something. Think of the money you’ll save, the junk you’ll avoid, and the creative genius you’ll turn into!



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