" 'Tis the season to get rid of clutter." Baggage. Garbage. Rubbish. Stuff. Trash.
In an aim to clear my living/working space and my head I've been feverishly eyeing, noting, labeling, designating, packing items that I need to release. A cluttered desk, they say, is a sign of a cluttered mind. It all started with an impromptu garage sale. Tagged to go were sundries, tchotchkes, novelties and the vagaries of my mind.
Not a resounding success, the hurriedly put together fun project, in the end, yielded more clutter and even less space. Items that were holed up in nooks and corners were now laid out in the open in previously untrafficked rooms. Now I was left to determine what to do with the unsold pieces staring me in the face. Angry that they had been disturbed, they beckoned me from their newly occupied floor space and challenged me to find them a permanent home. Rather than lug them all back up the stairs, I chose to donate some of the smaller bits and put the larger pieces by the curbside.
Within 24 hours of depositing a chest and two night tables on the sidewalk, interested parties slowed their cars to examine, one neighbor called to determine and a stranger rang my doorbell to ascertain if indeed the furniture was being thrown away. It all got me to thinking. Did I throw out something of worth? Was what I labeled annoying of value to someone else? Obviously, because later that day all three pieces were gone.
The old adage, "one man's trash is another man's treasure," instantly came to mind. How could it not? Here was a textbook case in front of my eyes or, at least, it was 24 hours earlier. It got me to thinking again. While the initial purpose of the exercise remains a work in progress, the lesson I took away is: before labeling anything, whether tangible or intangible, as trash or discarding any experience, pleasant or otherwise, it would be wise to first examine it with eyes of a different perspective. The things, the persons, the thoughts that we want to so readily dismiss may yet hold some virtue of which we are not aware.
Granted, I still need to get rid of a lot of stuff, or (as a dear little seasoned auctioneer schooled me) "deacquisition." However, in my quest to get clarity, I am now acutely aware that the things and experiences that I acquired along the way at one time served a purpose. Before relegating them all to the dumpster, I would do well to make sure that their usefulness has been exhausted.
As it turns out my trash was also my treasure. Gift. Present.
Jennifer Lavern is a keen observer of the issues that affect how women view themselves and how they interact with their world.