Please Throw That Thing In the Trash, And Slowly Back Away

“Several delusions weaken the writer’s resolve to throw away work. If he has read his pages too often, those pages will have a necessary quality, the ring of the inevitable, like poetry known by heart” – The Writing Life, Annie Dillard

Likewise, several things keep us from moving on in life.



The effort it took for us to get where we are.

But sometimes things must be thrown out and we must begin again, no matter how familiar our current circumstances, no matter how comfortable the situation, no matter how hard we worked. We must look at our lives objectively, in a vacuum so to speak, and remove the years of toil spent.  Otherwise we will be like the young photographer in the following story:

“Every year the aspiring photographer brought a stack of his best prints to an old, honored photographer, seeking his judgment. Every year the old man studied the prints and painstakingly ordered them into two piles, bad and good. Ever year the old man moved a certain landscape print into the bad stack. At length he turned to the young man: “You submit this same landscape every year, and every year I put it on the bad stack. Why do you like it so much?” The young photographer said, ‘Because I had to climb a mountain to get it.'”

Sometimes things must be thrown out, no matter the hard work that went into them. Sometimes we must start over, no matter the circuitous route we took to get where we’ve gotten.

4 Replies to “Please Throw That Thing In the Trash, And Slowly Back Away”

  1. wow! I love this…..this is perfect for my day, my plans are to clean my garage and downsize …I’m so tired of all my “stuff” and clutter…
    your post motivated me to detach myself from things I don’t use or need….:)
    Thanks Shawn!!

  2. Great point! I was just thinking about this the other day as I was watching the Phillies (who are in 1st place btw). The pitcher threw a 90+ mph fastball inside which jammed the hitter and shattered his bat. The splintered barrel, which now resembled more of a spear than a bat, helicoptered into the first row of the stands striking a spectator…luckily with the blunt end. After composing himself he held the splintered fragment high above his head like a trophy. He will probably take that home and display it proudly in his living room until he can’t take the constant, and unneccessary, fights with his wife about why this piece of broken wood does not belong next to her beautiful, intact, Longaberger baskets. At this point he will move it to a dark corner of the garage. For the next 5 springs as he cleans out the garage he will fight with himself on whether to keep it. Eventually he will see it for what it is…

  3. Good story. But . . . should we throw away the mountain pictures entirely? Maybe we should just tuck them away somewhere, and pull them out when we need to remind ourselves that we can, indeed, take that next step, because we did so before. I agree though, we need to be willing to let go of past successes and not let them define us or they will hold us back.

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