Don’t Overload the Dumpster

Two blocks from my apartment, there is an overloaded dumpster.

It’s big, industrial, dark green. Covered with rust, gouges. Filled with worn-out dressers, burnt-out ovens.

It’s a powerful dumpster. You’d have to be to hold so much chaos.

There are tables and chairs in that dumpster that were beautiful once. That even now could be beautiful. But they got thrown into the dust and disarray. And now they’re just another thing in the overloaded dumpster.

There’s only one sign on the dumpster: “DON’T OVERLOAD THE DUMPSTER.”

I think I would like a sign like that: “DON’T OVERLOAD THE PERSON.”

I might still, though, end up like the dumpster and get overloaded with so much chaos. And those beautiful things – those potlucks, weeknight birthdays, calls with friends – can lose some beauty. Because now they’re just another thing on the overloaded calendar.

The reason, I’ve decided, the dumpster is overloaded is that nobody’s taken on responsibility for that sign. Which means the reason – and I admit this begrudgingly – I’m overloaded is that I haven’t taken on responsibility for my time.

I can blame the world for my overload. But when all is said and done, my time is mine. Just as your time is yours. And this gift of time we each get comes with the responsibility to care for it. To fill it with what matters, to say no to what doesn’t, to forgive ourselves when we don’t know or don’t remember the difference.

So, let’s not overload the dumpster. Let’s not overload the person. And let’s never let a beautiful thing lose some beauty.

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