Tag Archives: doing

To Do or to Have: Is that the Question?

This past February, a healthy amount of snow descending upon our little North Carolinian town. Without large salt piles and plow-equipped trucks, this meant that for two days, a hush followed in the wake of the fallen snow. On the first of these days, my wife and I ventured out of the house to simply have a look around.

What we witnessed on this snow-blanketed day was startlingly magical. Not a car in sight (or ear). No leaf blowers, no planes overhead; not even the sound of household heating systems. Near silence. The only sounds we encountered were the chirping of birds, the pattering of fellow walkers’ boots, and the delighted laughter of kids tossing snowballs at one another and the unsuspecting, yet cheerful passerby. For two days, at least on the surface, ours was a pre-industrial town. The enveloping calm prompted us to attune our senses to landscape and air, it challenged us to focus on the here and now, it implored us to be.

Carrboro_Snow & do

While out on our walk, we stepped into our local grocery to grab a few provisions. After selecting a few varietals our shady garden refuses to grow, we eyed a $5 jar of sauerkraut. As rational utility maximizers wishing to advance our nation’s gross domestic product, we should have purchased the darn product; it sure did look good!

Yet on this day of being, we felt compelled not to have, but to do. So instead of making an impulsive purchase, we picked up some coarse sea salt and a head of cabbage. Then at home we hastily chopped the cabbage into fine strips, added a tablespoon of the salt and massaged the shredded cabbage for about 15 minutes. After placing the shreds and their brine in a glass jar and storing the jar in a dark place for six days, we had sauerkraut!

Though we try to find opportunities to simply be and do, this can be difficult in our consumer culture of controlling and having. Sometimes it takes a snowstorm or some other rupture in our routine to get us thinking about and experimenting with meaningful, vernacular activity. Sometimes it takes an exceptional day to prod us to explore our full potential.

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