“You have to ask yourself, ‘Does this item or thought or response move me closer to my vision for my best life?’ If it does, great. If it doesn’t, what is it doing in your life?”
— Peter Walsh
As a people, we like eating together. It has tremendous social value…with a little time thrown in for the food.
As a little kid in elementary school, I loved lunch-time. I don’t know about your school, but there was so much more at work in our cafeteria than PB&J. Some kids bought their lunch, but lots of us brought ours. And for those of us in the latter group, what you brought wasn’t nearly as important, as what you brought it in. And no, “I won’t trade my Chips Ahoy for your orange.”
As cool as that was, time passes and it was my Uncle Paul who understood that nothing less than the Green Hornet would do for a happening kid like me on my birthday. And having the matching thermos inside? Wow! Yes, my fellow crime fighters, no expense was spared in equipping me as well as Kato and his car ever were.
This is the point where I should say something contritious about how sad it was to see Gary H. and his Lost in Space lunch box losing altitude in our cafeteria society…but even now, I’m just not feelin it. It was so excellent to be the one sporting the latest in lunch box finery! My shoulders were back and my head held just a little higher as I strolled through the kingdom that was our cafeteria.
Luckily, some things didn’t change as I entered adulthood and its’ workforce – I still love lunch-time. With our lunch hours staggered to insure operational coverage in the middle of the day, there’s more than enough overlap for me to catch up with my co-workers, play some domino’s, learn where gas is cheaper or hear what’s hot in the video gaming world (not my bag, but hey, it’s important to stay current…’cool’ dies hard).
There are however, other aspects of lunch-time that have changed significantly.
Having the good fortune to be spending my life with a culinary whiz kid, my menu has certainly improved. It feels good when one of my co-workers catches a whiff of my stuffed pork chop or the ginger chicken. “What is that? What did you bring today?” If the cranberry and walnut stuffing doesn’t get them, the hand-snapped green beans glistening in their garlic and clarified butter sauce does. And just for the record, I do share.
No longer a child, I have (allegedly) put away childish things. My menu now travels to work in a plastic storage container that rides easily in my soft-sided briefcase. Granted, they don’t come equipped with a thermos or lead-based paint, but five name-brand storage containers (w/lids) are only $5 at my local dollar store. Such a deal. Sold. So while my lunch may not ride in Black Beauty style, it get’s there as safely as any goofy school bus ever could.
Utilitarian, dependable and durable, my storage containers get the job done for pennies on the week. They enter the microwave without complaint and double as a no-mess, one-‘bowl’ solution for my hunger. I can wash the container out at the sink, toss it back in my canvas satchel and I’m good. They are designed for a purpose. They perform that purpose. I value what my storage containers enable me to do. I use them, wash them and use them…again and again.
Not long ago, I spotted a small spot in the bottom of my briefcase that smelled suspiciously like spaghetti sauce. No matter, I’m a little clumsy. I probably bumped the lid in transit…
A week or so later, there wasn’t any extra from dinner the night before, so I grabbed two packages of ramen and headed off to work. Being a pretty good cook myself, I crushed my bricks of ramen at lunch-time and added the hot water to begin the soaking process. A few minutes later, I saw a faint imprint of steam underneath my storage box. “Gee, can I heat water or what. Must’ve gotten it a little too hot…”
Two nights ago, I had put some sudsy water in my loyal storage container in an attempt to soften the reddish tint of home-made chili and cornbread I’d enjoyed earlier that day and went about my evening routines. Coming back through the kitchen a little while later, I was horrified to see a small puddling pool of reddish water slowing spreading out from my precious containers place on our counter.
Despite all the earlier indicators and now, upon closer inspection, my precious storage container was clearly suffering from a hairline fracture somewhere on in its scuffed bottom. “MEDIC!”
Standing there at the sink, bummed at the loss of something no longer useful, the thought hit me about other leaky things in my life that, having served me well in their time, had since outlived their usefulness.
Equally curious to me was my own feeling of reluctance to carry the wounded container to the trash can. I’ve felt this feeling before. In fact, the little cupboard above our fridge is filled with cracked super gulp cups, melted lids and a nice supply of the delivery containers our local Chinese place uses.
Why do I keep all of this stuff? I couldn’t answer my own question. Can you?
We all have stuff. George Carlin speaks to it in his classic routine. And yet we hang onto it like we’re auditioning for a slot on “Hoarders: Buried Alive”. I wonder if there isn’t something about ‘stuff’ in our nature that defies logic; something that compels us to walk towards the cupboard above our fridge instead of the trash can. So while I read what Peter Walsh was talking about when it comes to the process of de-cluttering our rooms, it dawned on me that he may be onto something bigger.
If you’re like me, there is probably a habit or opinion that used to fit you. And now? It doesn’t. And who can possibly wear thirteen green cable knit sweaters you’ve had since high school? And since we’re going for the jugular, how long before you think you’ll be fitting into any of those jeans sleeping in the bottom drawer of your dresser? Do you honestly believe your plastic Flintstone cups will ever be the collectors items they were promised to be?
I think not.
Some things are fine, but they don’t fit us anymore. If even sweaters can find a re-purposed function, so can you.
Spring is rising. Maybe it’s time for each of us to get rid of some ‘stuff’ this week. Commit to your own personal drive-by act of kindness. Why not drop off a bag of clothing at your local charitable thrift shop. Somewhere in your neighborhood, there is someone who needs a helping hand right about now.
Wouldn’t it be freaky if the next time you’re having a really bad day, you spot a green cable knit sweater walking down the street, shoulders back and head held just a little higher than before. And they don’t even know who to thank. You did that! You may be a school bus or you may just be feeling lost in space – but either way – it’s what’s inside that counts.
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George Carlin Talks About “Stuff”. This clip is from his appearance at Comic Relief in 1986. Think of this as a 5-minute trip into yet another perspective on (you guessed it) ‘stuff’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac
Peter Walsh – Photo by Saverio Truglia : http://www.oprah.com/home/Peter-Walsh-Organizing-Secrets-Spring-Cleaning-Tips;
So what do you do with your “Stuff”?
Make a difference. Thanks to Ms. Oprah for giving some tangible mechanism for making our “stuff” count. http://www.oprah.com/home/Where-to-Donate-Old-Clothes-Clothing-Charities
PHOTO CREDITS: 100+ Lunchboxes and a great article on collecting: http://thejailbreak.com/2010/05/21/50-vintage-lunchboxes/; Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper (1932), by Charles C. Ebbets;
Storage Containers: GLAD is a proud partner of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer™, a non-profit that raises funds to support pediatric cancer research through bake sales. Learn how to get involved: http://www.glad.com/glad-to-give/ (Copyright © 2012 The Glad Products Company);
Rain: http://corloveschocolate.blogspot.com/2011/05/its-raining-on-my-parade.html; Band-aided storage container by dan4kent; Things and Stuff: http://ruralaspirations.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/do-you-know-where-your-stuff-comes-from/; De-Clutter your Life, Environment & Mind (Good Article and illustration) by Paul Foreman (2008): http://blog.iqmatrix.com/life-success-series/de-clutter-your-life-mind-map; Box of Stuff: http://www.ecenglish.com/learnenglish/lessons/the-stuff-you-need-know-about-stuff
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