Share on Google+




Anyone who knows Nantucket knows the “Madaket Mall”--also known as the “Take it or Leave It” at the town dump.  It is one of Nantucket’s treasures, and I make a trip there at least once a week and often several times a week.  

Remember when you were a child and you believed in hidden treasure.  You followed maps made by indulgent parents to a small “treasure” set aside just for you to find?   This is what the “Take it or Leave it” means to me.  On some days—good days—I find a small treasure, and it makes my day.  Maybe it is just a book that I have been wanting to read.  Maybe it is a wonderful signed first edition (something I only found once), or maybe it is a small trinket that—while not monetarily valuable—will nevertheless be treasured by me.

Some days I go, and I find nothing that I want—but those days are rare.

The “Take it or Leave It” is the great equalizer on an Island that is characterized by the “haves and have nots.”  At the dump, a Lexus or a Mercedes is parked next to a battered pick up truck or a jeep that has long ago seen better days.  The very rich and the very poor mingle with great glee as they search though the junk and joy of the mall. If you find something you think you will love and you later find out that you don’t—no problem—you just take it back.  Someone else will love it. 

I have a friend who has a great deal of money, but when you visit her, she is quick to point out the beautiful desk and the perfect chair that she found at the Take-it-or-Leave-it.  While in places other than Nantucket, one might be ashamed to admit that some of their house was furnished from finds at the dump, Nantucket year round residents pride themselves on the New England value of thriftiness, and where better to indulge in that than at the dump.  We are proud of our great finds.

I am, however, also intrigued by the name—“Take it or Leave it”-- which speaks to me in deep and meaningful ways.  It is, I think, a recent mantra for my life.  I am seventy-three, and increasingly I am convinced that if I don’t want to “take” something, I need to “leave” it.  I need fewer and fewer things—literally and metaphorically.  I have spent a lifetime acquiring “things,” and now it is time to divest myself of them and only keep the things I truly love and need. 

The same is true for friends.  In the last few weeks, I have been moved and grateful to discover how many true friends I have—friends who accept me when I am at my best and, more importantly, friends who still love me when I am not at my best.  These are the friendships I will nurture, and keep for life.  Like everyone else, I am a flawed human being, and I am blessed to have friends who know my short-comings and still love me. 

I have made several trips to the Take-it or-Leave it” in the last few days—and, for a change, I have not picked up any treasures to replace the things I gave away.  AND, I feel lighter.  I have cleaned out my closets and given away anything I have not worn for a year.  I still have more to do—but it is wonderfully cathartic to “leave it.”

It may be the middle of November, but it feels like a new year to me!