I’m eyeballing the corkscrew at the other end of the counter. It could work. It HAS to work. Otherwise I’ll never be able to eat this damn pasta.
I’m standing in the kitchen, exhausted after 15 minutes of trying to open a stubborn bottle of olive oil, but to no avail. The cap is a complicated device, requiring the leverage provided by a frail pulltab to open, a pulltab that I immediately broke and have since been cursing in many creative ways.
There’s a steaming heap of pasta in a pot in front of me, freshly drained and quickly cooling off, waiting for me and my olive oil to whip up a quick pesto sauce so that I can mix it all together and enjoy a delicious lunch.
So close, but so far.
One of the issues I run into being a minimalist who travels frequently is that sometimes I simply don’t have the right materials at hand when I need them. In this case, a pair of pliers would be great, as they would allow me to grab the nubbin of pulltab left partway down the neck of the bottle and pull the stopper out of the bottle (as the creators intended).
But that’s not an option, and I’ve got to think creatively, on my feet 100% of the time. I need to be a MacGyver of the kitchen, of the road, of the mobile business world, and of any other sphere that I step into.
It’s frustrating and invigorating and occasionally embarrassing.
My plan is this: use the corkscrew to jab the offending portion of plastic, knocking it down into the bottle of oil and freeing up the neck so that the contents can flow freely.
The mechanics seem sound, so I latch the corkscrew to the top of the bottle and begin to twist the knob. The metal spiral shoots downward from the contraption, stopping briefly as it plows into the plastic stopper, and then slowly shoves it downward until, “PLOP!” it clears the neck and falls into the oil.
The Thrill of Success/Failure
This is just a small victory, but it’s one of a thousand that I’ve had since I sold almost everything I owned and started traveling 4 months ago. I’ve learned so much from every victory, and even more from each of the thousand failures that I’ve had when things haven’t gone exactly as planned.
By putting myself in uncomfortable situations, I’m slowly improving myself, making myself a better person and one more capable of dealing with big, bad situations when they arise.
It would not be the end of the world to have to eat my pasta without pesto sauce, but being put in a position where all of my needs are not immediately met – where pulltabs break and a hundred different kitchen utensils are not immediately available to remedy the situation – I’m forced to think creatively, quickly adapt to novelty and find as much satisfaction in the journey toward the solution as in the solution itself (otherwise it would be quite easy to get depressed very quickly).
On the Road
The road to self-improvement is not a straight shot, nor is it always even a road. Sometimes you have to climb mountains, tunnel under forests or build rafts to cross oceans.
So long as you learn from each and every external trial and personal ordeal however, you need not ever reach the end destination; you’ll be a better person for the experiences you go through on the way there, and that’s why the road exists in the first place.
About the author: Colin Wright is an entrepreneur who runs his branding studio from a new country every 4 months. You can read his thoughts about lifestyle design, entrepreneurship, minimalism and travel at Exile Lifestyle.