Recycling Inside and Outside

by Mary Cook

Recycling Inside and Outside

There's something deeply satisfying about the economy of reusing and recycling. When I change my cat's water at the end of the day, carefully pouring the old water into my watering can, I feel that my plants, my cat, the water and I are parts of a wonderful cycle. Besides, it's intriguing to look for new uses for things instead of automatically discarding them. It's as if I am making a collage, finding the place where seemingly disparate pieces fit together.

Recycling everyday objects makes me see them in unexpected ways. It's as if they magically expand and take on another role, establishing a new link with my life.

What about recycling experiences, for example, that awkward moment with the cashier that I didn't handle well, when I felt so defensive? When an experience bothers me, my instinct is to push it into a back corner of my memory. It's like some litter that I crumple up and try to throw away. What if I recycle it? What if I smooth it out and place it on my collage? When I do this, my collage gets bigger. By giving it a place, I see how it fits into my life and other people's lives, too. That quickness to defend myself is not just mine. I feel the sadness and tension it creates in me and I see how it creates sadness and tension in other people too. I feel compassion for myself and for others, and a sense of urgency to find ways to lower my defensiveness.

Every day brings experiences and feelings that I can choose to recycle, rather than discard. As I find new ways of looking at something familiar, I deepen my understanding of myself and my relationship with what surrounds me.