A friend of mine from Delhi told me at the end of December that there’s an Indian superstition that whatever you do on New Year’s day you’ll do for the rest of the year. Starting on January 1, 2014 and since then I’ve been on 10 flights to or through eight different cities on three different continents. I’d say travel is my thing this year.
First up was a quit-your-job, change-your-life kind of trip to Tanzania with The Lunch Project (which I’ll tell you all about when I have the words). After that I crash landed in Charlotte just long enough to pack my bags and head over to San Francisco on business. Tonight I came home without a jacket, house keys, car keys or my drivers license (all of which are somewhere in St. Paul, Minnesota) uninspired to go grocery shopping and eager to just make do with what I have because, as it turns out, what I have is more than enough. There’s no better way to learn that than living out of a suitcase for three weeks.
I live in a small studio apartment in Charlotte’s hippest (as in: full of hipsters) neighborhood. I pay way too much to have no doors or walls to speak of, and as we all know I also have way too many cats (and litter boxes) in here. As such, it’s not a space I’d say I’m overly proud of. I do love it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just “not good for entertaining” as they’d say on House Hunters.
Coming home tonight, though, I felt like a queen in her palace. After a few too many airplane toilets (and sometimes no toilets at all), I have never been happier to be in this little space.
I recently found my journal from Nicaragua and was reminded of how unnecessary it is to feel that my home is so inadequate. While we were in Nicaragua we slept in hammocks (which is about as humble as a home can get) but were warmly welcomed into many nearby homes. There were never enough seats or cups or bowls or food or anything you’d need to accommodate guests, but that was never the point. The hosts always beamed with pride to share what they had, just to have to opportunity to give what they had to give. With that kind of generosity–the kind that gives openly and abundantly regardless of quantity–what you have is always enough.
So with that along with my trip to Tanzania on my mind, I came home to my newly adequate humble abode and decided to make dinner with whatever nonperishables had survived my three weeks away. I was feeling resourceful after all the time away, not to mention the hunger relief work we did in Tanzania made the words “I have nothing to eat” difficult to swallow. No matter how seemingly sparse, I knew I had more than enough. (Let’s not forget my car was also still at the airport because my keys were in Minnesota. Eyeroll.)
I whipped up lentils, rice, toasted feta sweet potatoes, and even some frozen banana cream for dessert. I was pretty proud of how successfully (and easily) “nothing” became something.
I guess the point of this post is that you can’t give what you don’t have. But keep in mind you may be overlooking the abundance all around you not realizing that what you need is what you have and what you have is more than enough.
You can check me out on Instagram for “recipes” for the sweet potatoes and banana cream. The lentils were a super simple mix of 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 onion, 2 carrots, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon dried sage, 2 cups dried lentils, 1 can diced tomatoes, 4 cups vegetable broth. Saute carrots and onion in oil. Add everything else and simmer until lentils are tender.