The Wisdom of the Dumpter, or, See What Happens When You Take Out the Garbage
Several–more than ten– years ago, I was in a difficult and intense relationship that was ending badly. Actually, the fact that it was not ending was really the problem. I have on occasion referred to this man as “my stalker,” since he would not go away. He suddenly died while he was on vacation in another state. Then I was pitched into a whirlpool of emotions, confusion, and adjustments. It was complicated by many factors.
I learned many things: the value of shock; my own strength; the kindness of strangers; the harshness of others; and how to be a deep feeling human being. It took a while to emerge from those emotions.
Then one day, I realized that I had integrated those feelings, emotions, and knowledge. I was whole again. Hearts knit back together with awesome strength and beauty. I realized that I had given away much of his stuff, burned some, and kept some. That night was the night to take the garbage out, so I got out a bag and gathered up anything that still did not belong to this whole me. I took it out to the curb and it was hauled away. It was an act of power and it was a spell.
Just because I was heart-whole didn’t mean I was seeking relationships. I’ve always been a little laggard in that area. A couple of new men had come into our circle and while there was a lot of interest in them around me, I didn’t really consider dating a situation that applied to me. At a gathering, a friend returned a deck of Tarot to me. Since there was a lull in the activities, I did a card reading for myself. The possible outcome was Ace of Cups. I rolled my eyes.
It was clear shortly afterwards that one man was very interesting and was interested in me. We did connect and that man is now my husband. A fabulous, passionate, fun love story then and now. When I tell the story of how we met, I often follow it with “See what happens when you take out the garbage.”
Our stuff is a potent teacher. George Carlin has a classic stand-up routine about stuff. This routine has a lot of wisdom, at least to me. I have a lot of stuff. I inherited a lot, bought stuff, and was gifted stuff. I spent a lot of money and time acquiring stuff. I spend a lot of time moving stuff, organizing stuff, and (not) using stuff. Lately though, I’ve felt I’ve got too much. I don’t want to move it and I’d rather spend my time doing other things.
In November, my husband and I had a lot of words about stuff. While it was a little impassioned, we came out with a constructive solution. We rented a dumpster. It was a wonderful, miraculous thing to happen. We cleared out a lot of broken things, a lot of things not used, and things that no longer served us. It was difficult. I had to make up some rules. A friend came over to help and before she came in the door, I told her THE RULE: you are not allowed to ask me if I’m sure I want to get rid of this. If it’s ready to go, I’m done. If I rethink my decision, it will go back in the house. That one rule was simple, effective and quite a blessing.
I also donated a lot of books to the local Friends of the Library, to a local sewing recycling place, and to the Salvation Army. Blessed be them!
I still have a lot of stuff. I’m still passing along clothes, books, and other things. It’s easier now that I’ve been initiated into the wisdom of the dumpster. I feel like I have more space to expand, more time, and can relax more. I’ve had a corollary story about stuff, throwing out and dumpsters at my job. Obviously, the Universe believes this is one lesson that keeps on teaching! Ordinary things can teach us so much.
May all your lessons be gentle, ordinary, and deep!
What an awesome blog post! Thanks Gail!
Awesome ideas – I always feel great after a good clean! Thanks for posting about Sew Green too! Can't wait to check it out :)~Jenn
A great post, Gail, and oh so true. Stuff gets in the way in more ways than one. Purging is an emotional thing to do for some of us but it really does feel good. For sure, in my experience, it allow for some new to enter. Thanks for sharing.Carol
What a great story and lesson to us all! And I'll bet more people can relate to this than would like to admit…I'll be the first one to say I will now consider the dumpster!Thank you!-Dana
Wonderful post! I think I will def take this to heart!