I found a moldy squash in my closet a few days ago. There’s nothing unusual about that; it happens to me all the time. I practice the ancient art of live storage of vegetables. In the days before refrigerators, people grew vegetables that would keep in a cold cellar or attic. If the proper handling and storage conditions are maintained, a nice variety of vegetables will keep well into the winter. I’ve had squash keep into the spring. The thing is: with live storage, you can’t just tuck your fruits and veggies away and forget about them. Some things will go bad. You have to go through the produce in storage from time to time, make use of the things that are likely to go bad soon, and dispose of things that have gone bad. One rotten apple really will spoil the whole barrel.
It’s not a big loss if you catch it in time. The rotten apple or squash goes to the compost heap, returns to the soil to nourish growth in a future year. It may come back as a flower, or tomato, or weeds. It will probably also come back as a squash. Some of my healthiest plants are volunteers that come up from seeds in the compost heap. If you neglect the things in storage, however, you very quickly will end up with a mushy rotting mess. That too will go to the compost and come back in time, but you will lose a lot of your harvest in the short term.
That rotting squash got me thinking: Life is a lot like keeping produce in live storage. Our minds and our hearts are like attics and root cellars. We store a lot of things in them. We have to have some care as to what we are putting in storage and how we handle it when we put it in. Not everything deserves a place in our minds and hearts. We should have some care what we read, listen to, or watch and who we hang around with. And even if we take care about having the right things in our hearts and mind, we still have to clear things out from time to time. We store up dreams, ideas, things we want to try. We make bucket lists. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I think it’s healthy.
But the problem is we tend to hold onto things until they get moldy. They were good when we put them in, but they can stay there past their time. If we keep on hanging on to them after that, they ooze out onto the other plans and dreams and make those go off too.
Is it time to go through the things that you have stored away in yourself? Are there apples that are starting to get wrinkled? Maybe you should a pie with them before they go off. Do you have a squishy squash that needs to go to the compost? Don’t let it make your prize pumpkin go bad.
I’ve found that letting go of dreams or ideas when it’s time is a remarkably good way of making my mind a fertile ground for new intellectual, creative, and spiritual growth. Sometimes a dream gets reworked into something else. Sometimes a fragment appears in a new setting. Sometimes letting go of one thing make time and space for a new and better thing.
The art of finding the proper time is essential both for live storage and for a fully lived life. Your vegetables, dreams, ideas, and plans may have all been sound when you stored them away. But maybe you left them there a little too long. You missed the optimal time. Nevermind. Let it go. If you compost it, it will still enrich your soil. Maybe you stored away a little too much. You could have given a little of that squash to the neighbors. Maybe your idea was there to inspire others, but you kept it for yourself, and it went off. Nevermind. Let it go. If you compost it, it will enrich your soil. Maybe it was only there to enrich the soil in the first place. The important thing is to let it go without fretting. Fretting is just another way of keeping the rotting squash in storage. It’s time to let go.
Or maybe you have an idea that is still sound and will keep until a new season of your life. Don’t be afraid to keep it in storage while you attend to the things that need done today. The time will come when the other ideas are spent. Then you can bring it out and make use of it. If it gets moldy. You know what to do with it. Who knows what seeds it carries to spring up from the ground and bear new fruit.
What is still sound and ready to use today? Is it time to make and enjoy a pie? Is it time to roast some root vegetables? Better do that before the time has past.
Your challenge for today is to take 5 or 10 minutes to ask yourself: Do you have in your life that you need to take to the compost heap? Are there things that you need to make something of now before the ingredients go off? Are there things that your spending time on that you could keep in storage a little bit longer? Write it down or tell someone. And take the appropriate actions.