A local book store can offer a glance into popular culture's mindset. And, if I didn't know better, somewhere in a big huge leather chair filled conference room, book publishers and authors decided to wage war on the past. It seems to me that they are trying to make the past a four letter word. Everywhere you look in the book store, and especially on the end caps, the prime real estate fought over by cookbooks and biographies alike, the theme of "conquering your past" is everywhere. The encouragement to get rid of your past like this weekend's garbage is inescapable. But, as seems to frequently be the case, that got me thinking. You can learn a lot from taking out the trash. As I pulled the plastic draw strings up this morning to carry the past few days worth of trash down to the bin, I saw a peak into the memories of the past few eventful days. Meals eaten, letters received, bills paid, products that had served their purpose and are no longer of value. The things that were thrown away were not horrible and terrible things that shocked and appalled me when I saw them again, but things that had run their course and were no longer needed. Things that no longer were valuable for me keep around. And of course, living in NYC I am very conscious of the amount of space that I actually have to keep around things that don't serve a purpose right now or in the future.
The same is true in taking out the trash of the past. While there are obviously the true extreme pasts that are filled with felony worthy habits and tragic decisions that marred the future, for a lot of the folks out there buying the self help books, it is possible that the past they are "dealing with" is actually just a part of their history and the scars that tell the story of their past. Not all of the past, even the tough parts have to be looked at as awful or horrible things, just not things that made the cut to be carried into the future. It is just how we think about it that matters.
While there are certainly decisions, habits, and choices in my past I am excited to have thrown out, there are a part of my story and something that has shaped the current version of me . But, that said, there is something refreshing about the action of tossing the lid on the bin and knowing that those things are not around to stink up or clutter my world anymore. What was in my trash this morning doesn't define my today or my tomorrow.