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This turtle photo (and a visit from my friend Joe) changed my whole post today. For some strange reason, when I uploaded about 100 photos from my camera to my computer they all ended up where I intended — except this photo. When I tried to transfer the photo, my computer said “no way” you’ve already transferred the picture and YOU chose not transfer pictures twice.” Joe showed me in like three minutes how to get around the problem. He didn’t solve the actual problem. But I didn’t really care about solving the problem. I cared about getting my photo off my camera and onto the computer. So what if it wasn’t done the way it was supposed to be.

I think this should be how we address problems as a whole in this world. We have all these problems that people say are TOO BIG to solve. So let’s not. Let’s just go around them.

The second problem we went around is with my MCS. Joe has tried for years, and yes (I do mean that plural) to figure what to wear that will not set off my MCS. One issue he went around was the dryer. A non-MCS friend pointed out what I had not thought of. He washed his clothes in all the non-scented, non-toxic soaps but then put them in the dryer. The scent from previous loads is infused in that dryer — maybe forever. He didn’t try to clean out the dryer, he just line dried the stuff. It is okay to keep a solution simple.

A simple example of going around a “war” would be — say you and your roommate are having a constant disagreement because one likes their peanut butter warm and one likes it cold. Stop worrying about who’s going to get their way and buy two jars — keep one in the frig and one out of the frig. It is okay for two people to be right in an argument and nobody be wrong.

I used to ask my earth science students, “How can we reduce the amount of oil spilled from tankers in the world? I got answers like: build ships with double hulls, train the ships captains better, make unsinkable ships. I was hoping they would tell me a solution that went around the problem. We can do all we want to eliminate human error and avoid the unpredictability of mother nature but we’re still going to have oil spills. My answer was if you don’t have to ship oil, you don’t have a chance for an oil spill. Use less oil — ship less oil. It’s okay to not solve the problem by not solving the problem — it’s the solution that matters. (And before you argue that you CAN’T do without oil — do you know of an unlimited supply somewhere that the rest of us don’t know about? — it’s going to run out — why not stop using it now?)

So here are my questions and you get to give the answers (if you want).

Question 1.) What animal do you most identify with its behavior/looks/rituals…?

Question 2) What is the most amazing thing a friend has ever done for you?

Question 3.) In hindsight, what is the silliest thing you argued with someone over?

Question 4.) Have you ever gone around (I don’t mean ignored) a problem/disagreement to find a whole different way of looking at the situation? How did you do it?

Question 5.) What suggestion(s) do you have to solve a world problem: energy depletion, war, poverty, starvation, slavery, drugs…. and how would you solve the problem without going at it head-on but instead going around it?

If you don’t have 18 minutes to watch this TED talk, please watch the first 1 minute and 25 seconds — I believe it will make everyone look at unsolvable problems in a different light. And then come back to watch the rest of it — it is thought-provoking in the simplicity of solving what so many say can not be done.

Love, Colleen