Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: Recycle Me

By Dennis Hinkamp

The laws of the Universe mandate recycling. Thank you, Cache County, for reminding me that recycling really is mandatory. Not because you say it is, but because in a universal sense it is. Without recycling, we are nothing. It's not an option; it's mandatory. Rainwater, topsoil, literature and movie themes are all recycled. The principle that "energy is neither created nor destroyed" is a law of physics and we are all law-abiding citizens here.

socI have taken recycling as my personal mantra and tattooed it on my shoulder so that I, too, will be recycled into the universe rather than mummified in some headstone menagerie. Nothing good can come of that. Tombstones are like trying to summarize your life on a bumper sticker. Please just part me out or give me to a medical school. I don't really care so long as there is some recycling involved. Why limit oneself to a single use only to be thrown away like some disposable razor or camera.

It doesn't matter if you have failed relationships, childhood trauma or dog bites, you are worth something on the recycling market. I'm not talking about any ghoulish involuntary organ extractions, but philosophically we all have something to offer somewhere. Even the worst football and basketball coaches still get rehired by somebody, because we truly believe in recycling and redemption. People get married for the third and fourth times for the same reasons.

Life is just a big garage sale, and stuff that you thought nobody would want will be hauled away gladly by something else. Bad hair, nervous laughter, stinky feet – there is always someone somewhere who'd like to have that. Or maybe life is just like a big Dollar Store where we are all the same value on overstocked shelves. Hey, the quality might not be great, but what the heck? It's only a dollar.

If you can't be recycled, maybe you could at least be dropped off at the thrift store to be cleaned and refurbished. Everybody loves a bargain, especially if it goes to a good cause like a church group or homeless shelter.

Recently people have complained, equating sorting their recyclables to dumpster diving. I say, "Embrace it." Dive into the dumpster yourself. Be at one with your waste. Get a glimpse of the hereafter. No matter what your vision of the afterlife, you have to like the concept of recycling, because otherwise you would just go to waste in some universal/celestial landfill. And even if your spirit goes somewhere else, there's no need to just throw away the rest of the equipment. It would be like saving the battery from your old car and throwing the rest off a cliff. If you at least took the car to a junkyard, people could select a part here and there. Pick up a slightly used kidney, a cornea; maybe in the future there will be a need for my overly perceptive ears.

I leave you with the words of John Prine: "Please don't bury me down in that cold, cold ground, I'd rather have them cut me up and pass me all around."

Dennis Hinkamp would like to remind readers that life is temporary, the tattoo is not.

This article was originally published on November 28, 2006.