Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Use it, use it up!

Do you remember the big box of 64 Crayola crayons? You’d get it brand new … and then you didn’t want to use it because it would dull the brand new points? Or the journal you thought twice about writing in because it was so pristine and beautiful?
This morning my friend Connie called to ask me to join her on a hike. “What are you wearing on your feet?” I asked (because I didn’t know if she planned an icy place, a muddy place, or a dry place). So we talked cleats and grip-on thingies, and she said, “Oh, I assumed you’d be wearing your new hiking boots.”

“I didn’t want to get them muddy.”

Yes, boots are made for getting muddy, and yes, getting muddy is part of breaking them in. But besides that, in our Third Thirds, I should be finished with keeping things pristine. I think of that Erma Bombeck quote where she hopes that at the end of her life she could tell God “I used everything you gave me” or the one that shows up on Facebook about arriving “thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming – WOW – What a Ride!” Erma was talking about talent, not crayons or hiking boots, but it’s all about using things – even us – to the max.

In our Third Thirds, we can ask the question, “What am I reserving it for?” For some perfect occasion or some perfect use? I have delicious bottles of wine bought on a memorable trip, saved for a memorable occasion. The wines from Italy, from Maui, from Argentina, from Homer. But now I’m not really into wine anymore. So they sit.
That candle that’s so beautiful – the perfect occasion may not happen or even, if it does, you won’t be able to find the candle when it does. Worse yet, as happened with me, you’ll find the colors faded, the candle warped. It needs to be lit now or given as a gift now so we can feel the pleasure now. Now is now and later may be too late.

Or else it will just be someone’s great deal at a garage sale.

I’m looking around my house now, trying to spy never-used things waiting for their perfect use. My mother once had a couch – no, a whole living room – that waited. I had a set of fancy teacups, but I started using them when I realized they were just … waiting. One broke. So what?

Life leaves evidence – of things used, things worn down, things broken.  Crayons – when they’re used – leave color behind.

I’m in my Third Third. I use my crayons, my paints, my journals, my fancy paper. I’m working on my fancy gift bottles of oils and vinegars. Hey, I’m even going to make plans for those memorable wines. Soon plans, not distant plans.

And yes, I wore my hiking boots. They made me happy. They were great, both uphill and down.


  1. Good advice. So you're going to get those boots muddy, yeah?

  2. I'm sure you'll find plenty of friends willing to help you with those wines...

  3. I know exactly what you mean. I have thought about why I am this way. I wonder if it has to do with parents who grew up during the Depression.

    I have a friend who says, "Wear your closet." I am working on it.


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