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Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson

Garbage Can Scrap Time

More than twenty years ago, when I worked for a library system in Illinois, we were required to attend a ‘time management’ workshop.  Nobody was looking forward to it expecting to be bored senseless.  Yet is has become the only training session I remember from all my Corn Belt years.

After we were seated in the meeting room of the system’s largest library, the presenter asked someone to go around the building and bring in every garbage can and trash receptacle. While a couple of staffer went on this errand, she unrolled printer’s paper around the room.  Once collected, she took the twenty or so garbage cans, lined them up next to each other on the paper and drew around them with magic marker.  She told us that these were the ‘have to’s’ of our days.  Then she passed out scissors and we cut them out and set them aside.  What was left were the scraps, the extra time.  These unscheduled little bits actually amounted to almost as much as the circles and rectangles.  “Look at all the time you have!”  she cried dramatically, tossing the pieces in the air.  “You can spend these any way you choose!”

Whenever I feel frustrated about not having enough time to read and write poetry, that crazy lady with her garbage cans and little wedges and curves of paper comes to mind.  And I realize that I DO have enough time if I use those minutes in between.


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