The town where I live does bulk pickup a number of times per year. And not surprisingly, the first bulk pickup of the year is the busiest. If you drive around my neighborhood you see all sorts of items out for pickup.
And, as I was dragging a number of our items to the curb, I wondered about the stories that these items have, and the value of regular clean ups.
It is important for us to remember that every item has a story to tell. And while sometimes stories for a given person, family, or community stop, that doesn’t mean that the stories for those items are over. As I was bringing a number of items out to the curb, someone pulled up in a truck and took a few of the items that I had already set aside. What is no longer needed for one can be precisely what is needed for someone else. Same is true for the work that we do. Ideas that are ready to be discarded may be incredibly valuable to a colleague. In other words, nothing ever really loses value; it is just where the value lies that shifts.
The chaos of things, the natural process that leads to things getting messier and more run down over time (rather than staying clean and tidy as we might like), makes it important for us to always consider clean up. A well-maintained house or school says something entirely different to those who live and work there than a home or school that is dilapidated and falling apart. Regular clean-ups, while taxing certainly, are a necessity. They allow us to see below the surface and truly understand what is currently needed to make an organization or home run. Better to invest the time and energy regularly, than to invest way more when something falls apart.
Tomorrow, the town will come by and pick up all that we’ve left (or others who need the items will get the chance to peruse what’s there prior). By tomorrow afternoon, those items will be gone. But we must remember they were there and the value they provided so we can always make sure to keep cleaning.