Emptying your wastebasket

Emptying your wastebasket

When I was living in Australia, I once took a drive with a friend down the Grand Pacific Drive. Our destination was the journey itself and an oceanside pub, a wide stretch of grass wedged between the winding road and the Pacific.

View from the Scarborough Hotel in New South Wales

As we sat with our beers at a picnic table in the sunshine, conversation ceased as we watched the lull of the waves against the rocks. It was a comfortable sort of silence, one of those peaces that you can’t take for granted with just anyone.

“Someone once told me that being out here like this, it’s emptying your wastebasket,” he told me. “You have to take the time to clear out all the stuff that builds up in your everyday life.”

Living in a fourth-floor walkup, it’s easy to let the trash build up: it’s the most-procrastinated chore in our apartment simply because it’s cumbersome and heavy and, really, more effort than it should be. Life in New York City is like that: it’s easy to let it all add up: the comparisons, the anxiety, the stress, the never-ending list of things to do and people to see and errands to run.

There’s a lot that I love about life in a big city: the ease of public transportation, the quality of the restaurants, the diversity of people in age and origin and dreams. Every morning, I look around at the faces in my subway car and am simply overwhelmed by the sheer volume of human experience I’m surrounded by: the heartbreaks, the successes, the good days and the bad.

But it’s those times that I get out of the city that I realize what we miss when all of those souls are pressed up against each other in the hot, heavy rush of the train: it’s the fresh air, the pure water, the sound of nothing but the wind. It’s when you see that the most beautiful places are always the result of nature’s long-winded but seemingly-effortless work, that not even the most spectacular building can compete with the vivid red cliffs of the desert or the stunning crush of a waterfall.

I grew up with a lot of open space, in a house that bordered a wildlife preserve and was only a few blocks from a park, a few miles from farmland. The cookie cutter homes of the suburbs are noted for overtly creating that distance between neighbors: the garages, the fences, the backyards. Most of the time, I revel in the novelty of the close proximity and fast pace of city life and the juxtaposition of relaxing in park surrounded by skyscrapers.

But without the bitter, the sweet ain’t as sweet. And the longer you go without an escape, without a chance to empty your wastebasket: the more overwhelming life can become.


  • Naomi Todd

    So, so true! I went two and a half months (I know it’s not that long) without leaving Medellin and when I finally did, I never felt so rejuvenated! I love living in the city but every now and then, you do need to escape.

  • Love this sentiment! I totally agree.

  • Erin

    Just started catching up with your posts again. I’m a recent Chico State grad taking off to Brazil in August! I totally agree with this one–can’t wait to get out there. Your writing is so inspiring and positive! Keep it up & thanks!

  • Ah so true. I’ve been home four months and the everyday just builds, no matter how amazing it is.

  • I feel like my wastebasket is overflowing. TIME TO GO SOMEWHERE! P.s. I just got your Jordan postcard, today! I love it! I am going to save all your postcards and make a keepsake box called “Christine’s Travels” 😉 Xo!

  • Beth

    I totally agree! I’m always telling myself ‘I need a vacation’ …except I know even when I go on vacation, I’ll still end up doing work on my blog. Ah, the life of a travel blogger 🙂

    It’s good to step away every now and then.

  • Anđela Ćenan

    aaah finally! I’ve been having a lot of problems commenting your posts lately 🙁 I tried to create a username but some of my comments seemed to disappear :/ anyway, somehow the option is back and I loooove that I can comment and I loooove your post 🙂 I’ve been having a lot of work in these past few months, so I try to escape to somewhere peaceful every now to ’empty my wastebasket’ 🙂 love the quote!

  • camorose

    Trying to figure out my next little city escape–I think I’ll need one now that it’s starting to get hot here!

  • camorose


  • camorose

    Yay Chico State! And Brazil! So awesome–and glad you like the posts 🙂

  • camorose

    Yup yup–you’ve got to empty that stuff out. Doesn’t necessarily mean going far–there’s a nice little spot on the river in Brooklyn that I like to go to just watch the water and the skyline and the bridge and just let it all go 🙂

  • camorose

    Haha I think I want to do a post of all my friends who save postcards from me! One of my friends from high school has ones dating back from 10 years. And yes–after moving, you three need a little day trip to somewhere pretty!

  • camorose

    SO important, especially as a blogger. I really find it necessary to take some time without technology!

  • camorose

    Glad you liked it–and boo on the commenting issues!

  • eva

    what a perfect metaphor. the comparisons and stress do add up, and emptying the wastebasket is one of the only things that will cure that. i will remember this: so true!

  • camorose

    So glad you were able to relate! It’s a nice little thing to keep in mind 🙂

  • This is so nice. 🙂 I love being able to unload and empty something for a few days and enjoy the freedom and declutterness (I don’t think that’s a word 😛 ) of it all. But I do also love the stress and hustle and bustle of it all. 🙂 Sometimes it helps me thrive.

  • Adventurous Andrea

    Such a great life philsophy!

  • Nadya’s Side Of The Road

    Great post! I totally agree with your life philosophy.

  • Kristen Strate

    So true; I can totally relate. Beautifully written as well. 🙂

  • camorose

    It’s all about finding the right balance!

  • camorose


  • camorose

    I took it from someone–but it’s a good one!

  • camorose

    So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading, Kristen 🙂

  • Pingback: Do, Eat, Drink: Williamsburg | C'est Christine()