Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 6/18/2008 [Archive]

Martha's Big Adventure - Catch and Release

Martha's Big Adventure -- new every Thursday

Catch and Release

By Martha Randolph Carr

There are a lot of TV shows these days devoted to helping us get rid of the general clutter in our lives. It has been pointed out that American attics and closets are packed with stuff we haven't looked at in years. There are even rooms in our houses that could be used for guests or a home office that are teeming with clothes that no longer fit or appliances missing a needed part. We keep those doors firmly shut, unwilling to face the aggravation or the anxiety. We're reluctant to sort through any of it to see what someone else might be able to use, what could be recycled or what is ready for the trash.

All of it is a marker for the place in our lives where we got stuck in an emotional quagmire and stopped dead in our tracks. Some part of us knows it too. We didn't always insist on keeping the recliner that no longer stays upright. At some point we got a good jolt from an illness or a job loss or the loss of a loved one and we got tired of seeing anything go out the door. Letting objects pile up became easier than facing the accumulation of pain and the fear that maybe misfortune wasn't done with us yet.

It didn't matter that we were still paying a nice-sized mortgage on a house that suddenly had less useable square footage. It was as if we wanted the size of our living quarters to match the reduced size of our hearts.

But the price we pay for gathering so much hurt and pain is that we never quite leave the grieving process behind and move on to a new life. Our arms are still so full with the remnants of what was that there isn't any room for something new to take root. Even worse, we have begun to believe the lie that says even the resemblance of the life that we knew is better than taking just one more risk if we can't have a guarantee of success right up front.

However, if we could know that things would always work out then so much of life's rewards would not be as sweet. Getting knocked down really hard and trying just one more time is the most courageous thing human beings do and we do it more than once in a life that is well-lived.

It's true that setting out without knowing what even the next day will bring to us sometimes requires enormous amounts of optimism in the face of tragedy and trust in something bigger that we may feel hasn't been listening to us very much. And yet, at some point we try anyway because as long as we're here on the planet we want to believe that the good can still outweigh all the rest. Miraculously, it does as long as we're willing to keep trying.

So, what's needed is that first small step in the direction of a life we may not recognize for a long time and here it is. Start with the piles in your house and let go of anything you haven't used this year. No pondering the ways you might use something in the future. There is a bigger goal at hand and that old sewing machine and jeans that don't fit are getting in your way. Hold a giant yard sale and put prices on each item that's guaranteed to have it sailing off to a new home. Donate whatever doesn't sell and throw away items that no longer serve anyone, including you.

What you might find out is that with each item that leaves some piece of your heart acknowledges that what you've been trying to fix is a part of the past and its okay that it didn't turn out the way that you had hoped. Your focus will stop being splintered between a past that can't be changed and a future you can't control but instead will settle into the day that is yours to try out something new. More adventures to follow.

© 2008 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email

Martha Randolph Carr's latest book, A Place to Call Home is available wherever books are sold. If you'd like Martha to come and speak to your group visit: Author's email: or visit

Download Martha Randolph Carr's color photo - Download Martha Randolph Carr's black and white mug shot photo
Why not run a cartoon with the column? We recommend the cartoons below as a good compliment to Martha Randolph Carr's topic.
Click on the thumbnail images to preview and download the cartoons.

Related Cartoons

Holiday Shopping
By: Nate Beeler

November 26, 2007

By: Lauzan

March 18, 2008

EBay Sandwich
By: Larry Wright
The Detroit News
November 30, 2004

Christmas Credit Crunch
By: Vince O'Farrell

December 26, 2007

We do not accept and will not review unsolicited submissions from cartoonists.
Sales & Information: (805) 969-2829
Billing Information: (805)
Technical Support:

FREE cartoons for your website if you're already a paying print subscriber!
Artwork and columns are copyrighted by each creator. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service