The Rubbish Bin Manifesto

One of my primary online communities lives within the site, a fabulous resource for knitters, crocheters, spinners, and just about anyone who likes working with yarn.  The group I mainly hang out with are avid spinners and fiber artists, but also a set of outstanding people with lively curiosities and diverse interests, people who care about each other intensely and lend support to each other through many kinds of hardships and difficult times.

One recent topic of conversation among this group has been about fitness and losing weight.  This morning a very good friend, a wise and thoughtful lady who lives in England, posted a message about her changing relationship with food over the course of her life; how she was taught as a child to always “clear her plate,” regardless of what was on it or who put it there, but has since accepted that it’s not wrong to leave food uneaten, if there’s too much or she doesn’t care for it or it’s not good for her, especially if she didn’t put it on her plate in the first place.  She said it this way:

“Eating food I don’t want and don’t need is very similar to throwing it away: I am NOT a rubbish bin so I will not treat myself like one.”

When I read that, huge bells started ringing in my head.  I am not a rubbish bin.  I am not a trash can or a garbage dump.  She is so right, and about so many more things than food.

How many ugly, unhealthy things do we collect inside ourselves?  Not just physical things, not just food and drink and stuff we consume, but inside our thinking, inside our hearts, inside our default assumptions about ourselves, other people, and the world?  How many defeating lies do we believe?  How many egotistical junk heaps do we build to crawl on top of and feel like we’re important because we’re taller than everyone else?  How many rotten spots do we leave in our relationships, our homes, our jobs, our tired, damaging habits?  How much old clutter sits around inside us, old ways of thinking and feeling that don’t serve us anymore, that we have never really taken a close look at, never taken the time to clear away?  All of it is like trash, like old junk that fills us up and keeps us from being able to live freely and joyfully.

I am not a rubbish bin.  I am not a repository for doubt, fear, resentment, or malice.

I am not a rubbish bin.  I am not a septic tank for processing bad food, bad drinks, bad air, or any other kind of bad influence or environmental factor.  This applies to my mind as well as my body: I am not built to run on negative images and demeaning entertainments.

I am not a garbage dump.  I am not a final resting place for castoffs and broken crap, not mine or anyone else’s.

I am not a trash can.  I’m not a box for other people to put their icky things in, their used tissues and banana peels, their bullying, their complaining, their whining, their bad moods, their poor treatment.

What am I?  I am a vessel; I am a vase; I am a bookshelf; I am an instrument.  I am designed to hold positive things, to be beautiful, to seek knowledge, to have amazing experiences and store cherished memories.  I am intended to be clean, to be strong, to contain good stuff for my own use and to use for helping other people.  I was made to be cared for, to be appreciated and loved, to do great work, to love and live with other people who are doing the same.

This metaphor sheds such light on all the work I’ve been doing over the last year and a half, from my lowest point of depression and anxiety to my current state of greater health and strength than I have ever known before.  It has been a long process of clearing away junk, getting rid of old trash, cleaning up my heart and mind, fixing broken spots, and making space for something new.  A year and a half ago, I would not have been able to claim this metaphor in the same way; I wouldn’t really have believed it.  Today there is no question at all.  I am not a rubbish bin, not a garbage can, not intended to contain anything rotten and evil and old.  I am not — and neither is anyone reading these words.  Everything I am saying for myself is completely true for every other human being, it’s true for you.  People are not trash heaps.  We are intended to be glorious, shining, strong, and joyful.  The greatest tragedy of the world is that we ever treat ourselves otherwise, or do the same to other people.

None of you, my kind readers, not one of you is a rubbish bin.  You are intended to be beautiful, strong, full of life and joy, full of every sort of goodness.  It is my hope and prayer that you are able to grasp this truth, and I wish you all strength and speed in throwing out everything which is musty and old, to be replaced by joy, life, and love.


7 comments so far

  1. laflakawen on

    Sing it!

  2. Cat on

    Great essay. Lots of ideas and ways to move forward.

  3. Suebert on

    Amen, sister! Take that garbage out to the curb (or dumpster, as the case may be) and be a better you for it! :) Woot!

  4. iriegemini on

    Beautiful! I am not a rubbish bin:)

  5. Mardi on

    I hope you don’t mind, I linked to this on Facebook. A wonderful post, C.

    • stitchesandwords on

      I don’t mind in the least; the more people who hear this idea and take it to heart, the better. Thanks, Mardi :)

  6. gina on


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