The saddest jar of tiny pickles.

There once was a jar of tiny pickles. Unopened and unexpired, they lived in my fridge. For monthsThey were bought by accident and not a type I happened to enjoy. So…the dilemma began.

I thought, ‘Hey, I’ll eat them anyway. Like a GOOD PERSON.’ But every time I opened the fridge, I’d see the sad jar. And it turns out I would repeatedly decide NOT to eat them — and then I’d feel huge pangs of guilt about it. Lose-Lose.

So what were my options?

  1. Do nothing and feel guilty. Succumb to clutter and the cycle of negative emotions it can bring.

  2. Force myself to eat the tiny pickles, because the horror of wasting food is just too much to bear.

  3. See if a neighbor wants the tiny pickles.

  4. Carve out time to deliver one jar of tiny pickles to the nearest homeless shelter. (And potentially pick up some additional items to add to the donation.)

  5. Open the jar. Feel guilty for a few seconds that I’m not currently composting. Dump the tiny pickles in the trash. Rinse and recycle the glass jar. Never have to worry about it again. Feel free.

Does this tiny pickle dilemma sound ridiculous? Maybe. But these are the very rabbit holes our brains start to go down, usually leaving us too overwhelmed to make any decision. If we acknowledge that this is all normal and allow ourselves those few extra seconds of thought and resolve, we can quickly come to a solution — one that allows us to let go of items and be free of their emotional residue.

Here’s what happened: After strongly weighing the options, I went with #5. And man-oh-man, did that feel nice. Just like that, I was no longer burdened with the fallout from buying the wrong jar of pickles. Clutter (defined as unused or unloved) was out of my life. Thinking the whole thing through and taking action took all of 60 seconds.

Yes, there were casualties. Those “perfectly good” tiny pickles may not have deserved to die. But here’s the thing: they’re not “perfectly good” if they’re causing anxiety and guilt…and taking up space I could use for something else. If I’d done nothing, they still would have eventually died!

It’s OK to not do some noble thing if it’s not realistic. There’s no Altruism Police who’re gonna show up with handcuffs. And, I’m sorry, but don’t YOU deserve to open your fridge and not feel like an asshole because of a jar of tiny pickles?

I rest my case.


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    Fay Wolf