Finding the real treasures

I love pretty baskets and boxes. All shapes and sizes. My family rolls their eyes when we are out shopping knowing they'll find me standing in front of unusual or colorful ones wishing I had room for them all. What could I possibly need with another? Rest assured I could find a purpose.

This of course is in opposition to the chain of events suggested by professional organizers who encourage people to sort through their belongings first and then determine what storage is needed. For me it's not a need to choose the best storage system—it's all about liking pretty containers.

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  I recently went through some mementos acquired over time because I had new thoughts for storing these treasures. But something different happened.

  When I was in university I was hired by the school's Communications Department. The day another student and I began our summer job we were shown office space that was rather bare. No desks or chairs. We were pointed in the direction of a storage trailer and told we could take anything we wanted to set up an office. So off we went treasure hunting in a storage unit where desks, tables, chairs and cabinets were piled several feet high.

  We couldn't help but laugh as we climbed over and around furniture to see what might be in the next pile and determining if it was functional, a good fit for the space, and most importantly, if we were willing to haul it across campus and up a flight of stairs.

  We set up our office and became rather amused as we fielded question after question about what was going to happen to the furniture when the summer came to an end. Fulltime employees wanted to put dibs on it. Items no one had wanted and were relegated to a trash heap were now seen as valuable. Two department heads even dropped by claiming rightful ownership come September on behalf of their department. Something they didn't even know was there was now what so many wanted.

  As I poured over items in my mementos boxes recently I was struck by two things. One, I already had exactly what I needed to re-organize them and two, I found things that were so special I tucked them away and forgot they were even there. What we find if we go looking can be quite remarkable.

  There's a feeling of discomfort, perhaps even angst, when talking about the direction we are going, be it socially, politically or culturally. Ethics, standards and conduct seem to be in a constant rhythm of disruption, and we lament what seems to be a decline in propriety, decorum, and even basic civility.

  But sometimes, when you go looking, you will find exactly what you thought might have been lost. But you need to look. Look past the pile of rubble, the mounds of stuff, the torrent of uninformed rhetoric and noise of dissension, and you can find something quite lovely. It might have been pushed aside but it can be found, retrieved, and put to use once again. We can't wait for someone else to do it. It's up to us. Once we do, we might find that people will see it and want it, too.

  When I retrieved my long-forgotten boxes I came across treasures that have no business being tucked away: a copy of the sermon my dad preached at my Confirmation that spoke of faith amidst increasing challenges, a letter my mom tucked in a graduation card that highlighted character and integrity, and notes from friends that reminded me of the ideals and hopes we held precious as we moved into adulthood. All contained thoughts that are more timely than ever and ones that need to be put into practice now, not tucked away as untouchable.

Kindness, compassion, generosity--true treasures--and yes, ethics, standards and civility are not lost. Some days they may be harder to find but they are most assuredly amongst us. The great thing is that when we bring them out and put them on display others will see their value and want them as well.

The best storage system of all has nothing to do with pretty boxes but everything to do with remembering what matters most to us and keeping it front and center. What we treasure are the things we need to ensure others can find in us. That's my outlook.


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