In my enthusiasm to fill up the compost bin a friend gave me, I wondered what else I could throw in: I had an abundance of green biomass, but was running out of browns. Dryer lint, fingernail clippings, cotton fabric, what else? Ah, paper. I had that in abundance too.
I turned my attention to the towering pile of folders and papers that had moved with me but remained unsorted. My hand first alighted on an orange file folder, which contained notes, collateral and printed emails from a project that took place in 2004. (!) The collateral went into my portfolio, and the rest went into the recycling bin.
An hour later, I had filled up two bins. I said oh yeah, I can compost this.
Then I realized, intellectually, professionally, metaphorically, I have *already* composted this. The projects, the problems, the relationships, the work, the impact, the solutions and the results, what I learned — all of this had been absorbed by me, turned over in my mind, aerated, and aged into wisdom, and experience.
Now it was the intellectual equivalent of “black gold” — something to apply to a problem, to spur growth, to enrich my work environment, and produce a bountiful, prosperous end result. This made me grateful, and happy. (Plus I thought it was a pretty clever metaphor.)
I bought a shredder the next day. It seems fitting that the work experience which nurtured my mind, my career and my relationships will now feed my yard, my plants, bugs and worms and perhaps eventually my body. Maybe that’s a little weird, but it’s satisfying nonetheless.
This post first appeared on medium.com.