Mary Liz Ingram —  October 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

This morning a giant metal claw scooped up our huge trash pile and hauled it away to the dump.

Normal procedure for a Monday morning in our suburban neighborhood, lined with rows of cute little homes, shade trees and garbage cans.

But it hurt this morning.

Little dirty tractors that had been left in the yard too long; IKEA cups that never made it back inside; wood from projects with kid-hammered nails poking out on all sides; sand buckets with cracked sides; empty dog food and grass seed bags; old crocs and dirty garden gloves; and of course plenty of sticks, wisteria vines and leaves.

Watching the little green tractor escape the claw and roll into the street actually made me tear up a little. For several reasons.

The first is sentimental, picturing my little boy rolling it through the dirt, now it’s being crunched by the garbage man…the usual weepy mom stuff.

But more so because of our shocking wastefulness. So much waste, just sitting on the side of the road. An embarrassing pile of American garbage. We buy, we play, we forget. We want, we get, we abandon. We accumulate so much, we have to throw away.

We regularly purge our home. It’s small and crowded with humans and pets, so there’s not lots of space for junk. I just put a big bag of who-knows-what on the porch for donation last Saturday. But the house is still full of junk, and we just keep filling it back up.

I’m reading a book right now with the tagline “An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.” We as Americans are surrounded by excess, and we always have our hands out for more. We may be thrifty (I am the queen of hand-me-downs, if I do say so myself), but we still crave more, more, more.

I feel swept away in the current of life; we’re all going the same direction, and we’re getting there fast. Too fast. So fast we miss tons of life, so many experiences, because we’re always trying to get to the next place.

We rush, we buy, we use. I want to scream STOP! and get a grip, a hold onto something that will help me pause. Moments flash by in a flood and I’m caught in the current, getting glimpses, a few deep breaths before diving in again. I want to control the current, but it is impossible. How can I work with this current of time and days, to use my strength to chart my own course? To avoid the whirlpools of excess, to escape the “habits of the mind,” and find more peaceful waters?

I simply don’t know.

But I want to.

And I aim to try.

So stay tuned…

Mary Liz Ingram


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