Trash the Past; Focus on the Future

A small metal trash can had been placed at the curb with the garbage to be collected the next morning. It was empty. When I noticed it from my bedroom window I thought it looked familiar; so began the investigation. I retrieved the empty can and returned it to where my memory led. I waited.

The 1960’s high school shop class was apparently the groovy place to create unique…creations. Glued pictures, newspaper clippings, and cut-outs from magazines wrapped a metal can gently shellacked with polyurethane.  I had noticed the yellowed receptacle several times before, sitting in my Dad’s office, but had never paid much attention to it until that evening.

I waited patiently in the upstairs hallway until the light flicked on. Dad climbed the steps, walked passed me and entered into his personal realm where he quickly noticed the returned trash can. From behind, I walked into the room and pointed at the object...” Why are you throwing this away, and what exactly is it?” He sat down in his chair, gently looked at me and said, “It’s an old trash can that I made when I was in high school. Glued to it are the memories of everything that was important to me then.”

For the first time, I saw—glued to the can—his high school basketball team picture, some newspaper clippings recounting wins and losses for the Butler Bears, pictures of buddies and old girlfriends, and headlines cut from magazines that even he himself could not remember their purpose.

I won’t deny that I am a sentimental person, and to me, everything has a story…so “Why?” inquisitive minds want to know, “Why get rid of it, Dad?” Simply, he replied, “This represents what WAS important to me. Now that I have a family of my own, I have found a new passion and purpose. It’s time to focus on the future.”  With that said, he carried the yellowed metal trash can back down to the end of the driveway.

There was treasure found in that trash that night. I had often looked at the past—the victories, the disappointments, the good times and the bad—as reminiscent relics that should remain in front of us on the mantle, but I discovered that sometimes it’s good to set those past reminders at the curb and realign the present stepping stones to guide us down the path of better decision making, less wasted time, and bigger dreams about the future.

Find your focus and move forward.

 

[I will admit that from time to time I still glance at that yellowed metal can I stole sitting in the corner of my home office.]