Years ago, I ran a small homesteading farm. On a particularly busy day, I made a batch of vegetable broth, not realizing the metaphor it was for my life. It’s a simple process with simple ingredients, but it results in quite a large yield. Because time was short that day and I wasn’t able to can it immediately, I stored the broth in two large containers that dominated the entire top shelf of the refrigerator.
My personality can be big. It can take up a lot of space and make things feel cramped. But to understand how that came to be, you’d need to understand that I didn’t turn out that way by chance, the person I am today is the result of enduring much of my life as an afterthought – disposable and often disposed of. In a very real way, I created the person I needed to be from the broken pieces other people discarded.
For two days after, opened the fridge and grew increasingly irritated with myself. Why had I let so much time pass without canning it? If I let it go any longer, I would lose more than two gallons of homemade food, but I was having a demanding, frustrating day taking care of the farm and I couldn’t rely on my ability to monitor the pressure canner.
I am drawn to save things other people dispose of, and to use them to make something good and beneficial (hello there, metaphor). Vegetable scraps become hearty broth, kitchen waste and shredded paper become compost, cardboard becomes a biodegradable weed barrier in the garden, a broken, disposable man becomes a happy, centered, fulfilled being.
I could cook the huge volume down into a much more serviceable amount that would require less storage space and could be managed much more easily. After a couple of hours on the stove, two-and-a-half gallons became two quarts, and I poured the hot broth concentrate into jars and set them aside to cool.
I forgot how happy I can be when I concentrate, and how much happier I can make others. I forgot how important it is to take care of myself in a timely manner before I start to go sour. I forgot how not everything that gets thrown away is trash.
When you get overwhelmed, concentrate. Never forget that I love you, and that excludes no one.