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  • Caroline Wright

On cleaning up your mess

Of course I felt like a million bucks after my stylist finished putting the final touches of product in my hair after an early afternoon at the salon. As I headed for the check-out counter, I recognized a woman I knew, so I went over to say hello. She was actually the gal who referred me to this particular neighborhood salon, and my stylist, in the first place. It was pretty cosmic that we were all there together, not to mention we are all Lithuanian. (Small world.) Anyway, the woman about to have her turn at a new "do" informed me that it was, in fact, her wedding day. I lit up, congratulating her profusely. She went on to tell me the shorter, "Dick and Jane" version of her fairytale romance, after a shampoo: Dick and Jane were grade school sweethearts. (Jane is now divorced. Dick is widowed.) Dick found Jane after 14 years of separation, so they reconnected and started dating. Jane and Dick agreed to say "I do" on June 18, 2016.


This beautiful story was shared with me on the anniversary of my husband's death. After hearing it, I knew I was meant to go to the salon for more than a haircut that day. I went to experience a delightful result of a messy situation, reminding me that everything will be all right (for me, too).

I smiled on that very hard day, thanks to Dick and Jane.


Flip of the Switch I noticed you

in your dark,

so that’s where I left you

when you walked away

every time.

Until one night

you defied your own approach,

when, upon mine,

out of the clear blue,

turned on the lights.

I’ve been in some bright places,

but above them all,

when you changed before my eyes

forever altering my outlook

on electricity.


There's an iconic idiom: "One man's trash is another man's treasure," where something seemingly worthless to one person is of great value to someone else.

In a relationship, "trash" is typically referred to as "baggage", otherwise known as one's past. (Not to be confused with leftovers.)

A person's past is not like the kind of trash you can pick up and simply throw away, never to see it again. It stays with a person. Sure, you can think less about one's past over time (including your own), but it is precisely what helps shape a person into the being they are today, so it doesn't really make sense to ignore its existence. Even physical trash is tossed into a dumpster and taken away by a sanitation company, only to accumulate in a heap along with other garbage which tends to stick around for a while. Non-biodegradable junk...well, that's pretty much here to stay, too.

You do have the option of hiding from your past, but when you actually utilize it, you can mold your experiences into the finest present imaginable, thus building a better future. One cannot do this without a starting point.

  • Treatments for illness are only established after researching and experimenting current and past strategies.

  • History books teach us lessons to either be repeated, or avoided.

  • Better technology emerges from existing technology.

  • Inventions arise when someone finally discovers "a better way" than "the old way".

  • New parenting strategies evolve as generations learn from their parents, or other parents.

You may not like every aspect of your past. (No one does.) Frankly, it is often easier to leave it behind and try not to look back. Problem is, much like a mess, the past will pile up over time as well, soon taking up precious space in your life (it may even start to smell bad). However, confronting your past, and tending to the mess, allows something quite beautiful to take shape. That's why people love a rags-to-riches story, or a great comeback tale, especially as told to by the underdog!

So, how do you perceive your own past?

As a messy pile of trash?


A unique silhouette?


The choice is yours.


Tim Noble & Sue Webster like to take ordinary things (including rubbish), assemble them, then point light at their work to project shadows showing great likeness to identifiable images, including portraits. They use anything from discarded waste, scrap metal and even taxidermy. In their twenty-year career of mixing modern sculpture with an attitude of punk, they continue to turn anti-art into art.

Their featured work above is called "Dirty White Trash (with Gulls), 1998. It took six months of the artists' trash, two taxidermy seagulls and a light projector to create this piece.

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