Taking Out The Trash

Plastics+Story...Cani+among+the+garbageLet’s talk about trash. I know. Your very first image is wet garbage, dirty diapers, perhaps a landfill. Right?

What trash is – and what it represents metaphorically – is simple. Trash is anything that is not needed, not wanted, or is broken or unusable. Yes. Trash can become smelly and overwhelming, especially if it is not addressed in a timely manner. If you haven’t watched the cable program called “Hoarders”, you might want to check out YouTube for some imagery of what trash gone unattended can do to a person, that person’s family and friends, and that person’s home.

Basically, unaddressed, trash can take over your life if you allow it to.

Interestingly, there is a not much discord over the definition of trash. Both mainline dictionaries, like Merriam-Webster and Oxford, and Urban Dictionary concur on what trash is.

Discarded, junk, beaten.

Everyone accumulates trash, all the time. No one can be free of it. Whether trash is food, containers, paper, furniture, vehicles, time, effort, relationships…anything wasted or no longer needed or used is trash.

carbon+footprintBut, in this new world of counting carbon footsteps and recyclable-everything, we all must try harder to be conscientious about our consumption, thereby reducing trash and re-using as much as we can. After all, we don’t want to overfill those landfills too quickly.

This concept of trash, of things that are not needed or broken, can be applied to intangibles as well. I already mentioned time, effort, and relationships in a previous paragraph.

Intangible trash – such as time, relationships, effort, and thoughts – can accumulate in your mind in the same way that hard trash, like paper and food, can accumulate in your home or a landfill. They take up space. They are “visible” everywhere you go. Sometimes you have to step over or around them to get to where you are going. Like a hoarder, you might get into a situation where it is easier to let it be than to take the time and effort to sort through it and determine what you want to let go of (e.g. what is truly trash), and what you really could use in the future.

072908-1624-losangelesa1Remember that we are also meant to recycle, if only because another person might be able to use something that we can’t. Not everything needs to be completely discarded. Some things only need a fresh perspective, a new coat of paint, some extra time and different talent.

The real problem with the intangible trash is inherent: you can’t see or touch it. And, because it has this elusive quality, it is easily forgotten or glanced over. Like dust bunnies under the bed or crumbs under the couch. Intangible trash sneaks up on you, at the worst time and completely unannounced, and causes problems with your focus, your dreams, your sense of self.

In addition, another problem with intangible trash is that it is vested in the heart. Emotions feed it. Emotions like hope, fear, desire, jealousy. These emotions, good or bad, involve a huge investment of time. Sometimes that investment makes the idea of completely getting rid of the trash untenable. It’s worth too much to throw away, or even give away.

However you approach it, real trash or intangible trash, it must be addressed.

Why not identify and catalogue it, just like you would with your other stuff?

Trash? Or recycle?

If recycle, can it be used for something else? In a different way? Or, if you can’t think of any other way that you can use it, maybe someone else can use it?

Whether the trash is real or intangible, it will reach a critical mass if left alone.

Again, check out Hoarders.

This is trash. This is your mind on trash.

Is that really how you want to live your life?

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