Around age 40, I realized to my horror that I lived in a throwaway society. Material items didn’t seem to last as long as I remember when I was a kid, teen, wife, then mother.

I was from the “old school” where you tried to fix things or get the most mileage before trashing or recycling it. We recycled everything we could when our son was young, and he developed the recycling routine early and continues that conscientious habit today.

I’ve watched in bewilderment all the things thrown away … computers built to become obsolete, furniture that can’t handle the realities of everyday life, endless bags and packaging created for one use, a new industry devoted to generating more trash cans to hold everything we pitch on automatic pilot.

The throwaway trend then infiltrated human relationships: “They hurt my feelings. I’m done with them … They don’t agree with me. I’m done with them … They made me do that. I’m done with them … They won’t do it my way. I’m done with them … They did something I don’t like. I’m done with them … Mom/Dad liked them better than me. I’m done with them …”

Too many human bonds are tossed in the trash these days without thought of the consequences of the mess they leave behind. Struggling to survive under the tons of human potential waste are the foundation of what makes us human … the ability to think for ourselves, the recognition that we are each wired with different strengths and weaknesses, that we are more alike than we care to admit.

We toss one person when we tire of them … We turn off before listening to opinions that differ from ours … We run toward those who lure us with shiny objects … We become more loyal to a brand than a family member or friend …

It takes a lot of patience to survive this world. You have to throw in healthy doses of empathy … listening skills … thinking before you speak or post or hit send … learn the art of forgiveness that God gave only to humans … and how to genuinely admit, “I am sorry … I was wrong …” because no one is right all the time and beyond apologizing.

I was only 16 when I met this guy on the first day of high school, when I was a junior and he was a senior. I didn’t know anything about love other than falling into it. It was only after days, months and years of practice that once you fall in love, you discover things get messy, sticky and confused. Mistakes are made, misunderstandings arise, feelings get hurt, you lose loved ones and suffer unfathomable pain…

And you also discover how to take deep breaths, how to rebuild, how to compromise, how to accept, how to sweet-talk them to your side, how we’re so different yet so much alike … and how we love each other and more importantly, like each other, through good, bad and everything in-between.

Love cannot be selfish … Love cannot be fleeting … Love cannot be a joke … or it’s not worth it. Love is a long-term investment, whether it’s a life partner, a relative or a friend …

I’m an avid recycler … 42 years ago July 21 I met Roger at the altar and made a promise to love and honor and respect and at least TRY. And that’s what we’ve been doing ever since, TRYING to make it work with give and take, persuasion and praise, sacrifice and support, confessions and apologies, facing reality and real life together … because there’s no way we could go through life alone.

There’s only one model, one version, one creation of each of us … and we’re still stumbling our way through because we’re only human … who believe in accepting and working through the flaws, breaks and malfunctions … who understand each of us are not and will never be perfect.

Perfect ain’t human … and humans ain’t perfect. I’m so relieved I’m human! That means Roger will keep me! Someone had to!

Are your family and friends keeping you?

Hey, drop me a line at [email protected] or leave a comment below. I’d love to speak to your group, organization or company about working our way through the pain and challenges of everyday life. You want straight talk? You got me!