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Why I Love Getting Rid of the Garbage

December 19, 2021 | by Emuna Braverman

I can’t wait to get rid of garbage. I always remind my husband to take the cans down to the street and I take great pleasure when the trucks come and take it away. I’m not quite like my grandchildren whose noses are pressed to the window as they watch the garbage trucks with fascination, but I’m pretty excited nonetheless. And relieved to have it gone.

What’s my obsession with garbage and its removal? There is, of course, the simplest explanation: I like my house to be neat and orderly. Yes, this can border on the obsessive and I have to remind myself that I don’t need to empty the individual waste baskets in each room the minute something is dropped in it! It just makes the house feel cleaner to have the garbage gone.

The second theory is that I am an editor at heart – and in practice. Not only do I enjoy editing articles but I enjoy editing my home as well. This means decluttering and yes, getting rid of the garbage. I don’t like extraneous words in books and, similarly, I don’t like extra items lying around the house (I think my children may be still resentful that I didn’t hold on to their school projects). So getting rid of the garbage is just another form of editing – on a grander or lesser scale depending on your perspective.

Getting rid of the garbage is like an opportunity for a fresh start.

And the third reason – you may think I’m pushing the envelope here but I really believe it’s true – is that getting rid of the garbage is like an opportunity for a fresh start. When the garbage lies around for an extra day (due to a legal holiday or some other township issue) I feel burdened by it; I can’t wait until it’s gone. It’s standing in the way of beginning the week anew.

The more I ponder this, the more I realize this is not an innovation on my part. When we physically clean our homes for Passover, we are simultaneously focused on scrubbed our souls of extra “chametz” (puffed up leaven which symbolizes the ego). Why shouldn’t we experience something similar, albeit less intense, with our weekly (daily!) cleaning?

We are making room in our homes and our hearts to begin again. Each week brings with it new opportunities and new challenges. Sometimes we are able to take full advantage of the opportunities. Sometimes we succeed at confronting our challenges. And sometimes we don’t. We want a reboot, a reset, all those contemporary expressions that signal a fresh start.

And we can get it. We are not trapped by the past. We can keep moving forward into the future. I know it may sound like a bit much, but as I looked out my window watching the garbage trucks this morning, I couldn’t stop smiling. I could feel my excitement – and I could feel the weight sliding off my shoulders. In some ways, it doesn’t really matter whether the analogy works perfectly or not. In Jewish understanding everything and everyone in this world is here to teach us something and if I can use the weekly garbage pick-up as a personal growth experience, then let me have it!

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