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Monday, April 18, 2011

No One Likes to Take Out the Garbage

As I struggled to write today, I went in search of inspiration. I stumbled upon this poem in one of my favorite books, Where the Sidewalk Ends. I always find it funny when truth turns up in unexpected places. Hope you enjoy!

By Shel Silverstein
Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would not take the garbage out!
She'd scour the pots and scrape the pans,
Candy the yams and spice the hams,
And though her daddy screamed and shout,
She simply would not take the garbage out.
And so it piled up to the ceilings:
Coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas, rotten peas,
Chunks of sour cottage cheese.
It filled the can, it covered the floor,
It cracked the window and blocked the door
With bacon rinds and chicken bones,
Drippy ends of ice cream cones,
Prune pits, peach pits, orange peels,
Gloppy glumps of old oatmeal,
Pizza crusts and withered greens,
Soggy beans and tangerines,
Crusts of black burnt buttered toast,
Grisly bits of beefy roasts...
The garbage rolled on down the hall,
It raised the roof, it broke the wall...
Greasy napkins, cookie crumbs,
Globs of gooey bubble gum,
Cellophane from green baloney,
Rubbery blubbery macaroni,
Peanut butter, caked and dry,
Curdled milk and crusts of pie,
Moldy melons, dried-up mustard,
Eggshells mixed with lemon custard,
Cold french fries and rancid meat,
Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat.
At last the garbage reached so high
That it finally touched the sky.
And all the neighbors moved away,
And none of her friends would come to play.
And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said,
"Ok, I'll take the garbage out!"
But then, of course, it was too late...
The garbage reached across the state,
From New York to Golden Gate.
And there, in the garbage she did hate,
Poor Sarah met an awful fate,
That I cannot right now relate
Because the hour is much to late.
But children, remember Sarah Stout
And always take the garbage out!

I've yet to meet a person who enjoys taking out the garbage. Since we are always creating waste, it is a never ending chore. And unlike laundry, where we can push off doing it until we run out of clean unmentionables (well maybe that's just me). Trash that sits for too long starts to smell (thankfully my clothes have never sat long enough to start smelling). Even if the garbage can is full, we still try to push down and cram more in (again maybe that's just me). But it's the smell that gets our attention and tells us to take it out.

I'm slightly addicted to the show Hoarders. I don't know if it has to do with my obsession with reality TV, home interiors or what. But I love seeing how much crap people can cram into one house. Occasionally there will be an episode where the person actually has nice stuff but mostly the people are hoarding garbage, literally. Old newspapers (of no significance), coke bottles, tissues, old food, and I even saw one show where the person kept fecal matter (no comment). But I think another reason I'm intrigued by this show, is because I see a little bit of myself in these people. Be it lies, anger, disappointment, I have a habit of holding on to things that are start up trash. Things that I should throw out but for one reason or another I justify keeping. Now on Hoarders, the people always have good excuses as to why they have so much crap. I have been brought to tears by some of their stories. But even after hearing all their reasons, the garbage in their lives is still garbage. And the same is true with us. We may have some really good reasons why we have trash in our lives. Horrible childhoods, bad relationships, disease, death. But whatever our excuses are, no matter how true they may be, it doesn't change the fact that trash is trash.

What if we started smelling because of the garbage in our lives? Let's face it, we all have garbage. Some of it's from messes we've created. And some of it's from crap other people have left behind. But since we don't literally start smelling, a lot of us end up like Miss Sarah Stout. We just keep piling in the garbage and never take it out, until it's too late. We feel ok about our trash as long as it stays discrete. You know as long as we don't become drug addicts, anorexic, sex fiends, or suicidal, our trash is ok. But the truth is we're fooling ourselves, when we believe that even a small amount of trash doesn't affect us. Bad attitudes, constant complaining, bragging, self-absorption, lack of empathy, need for constant sympathy or attention, gossiping, slandering, and that's just to name a few of the ways our trash affects us (and others).

But unlike Sarah Stout and the people on Hoarders we can't hide our garbage in our house, our garbage is in us. It's in our interactions with other people, that we see how bad our trash smells. Read the poem again, it wasn't that Sarah finally got so aggravated with the mess that she decided to clean it up. It was the fact that the people around her started leaving, that made her change. And unless we all plan on becoming like Howard Hughes, we need to start cleaning out our inner garbage. Like I said before, no one likes doing it. But we would all benefit so much, if each of us took the time to do this (on a regular basis). So let's learn a lesson from Sarah Stout and my Hoarder friends, and let's take our garbage out.  XXOO

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