Ready to Dump Your Little Red Wagon?

I accidentally dumped my little red wagon.

It’s lying upside down now.  The rocks that were inside the wagon are strewn around.

After the accident, I wanted to cry as I looked at it lying on the floor under my desk.

The red wagon and all the rocks sat on my desk for years, ever since I heard the story about how it’s a metaphor for life.

Do you know the story?

We go along through life pulling some sort of vehicle–we’ll call it a little red wagon–to hold all the stuff we pick up along the way.  The “stuff” is the emotions and conditions of our lives and each one is represented by a rock.

Each rock gets put in the wagon because we choose to lift it in.  That’s the deal.

There are the good choices; the ones that elicit peace, love and joy.  For example, one rock represents your love choice, one might represent your children, another might be for your work.

Then there are the rocks that represent (again, for example) the long-standing feud with your parents, the unresolved conflict in your primary relationship or the time clock you punch at the job you can’t stand.

Each of us pulls our own little red wagon.  Mostly, there’s not much effort at all in pulling the wagon because the wheels are good and you’re on even ground.

Eventually, though, the incline starts to steadily increase.

Suddenly, it’s not so easy to pull your red wagon full of heavy rocks.

You struggle and sweat and cuss and tug.

Along the route, you see a sign that reads, “Lighten your load.”

Then you trudge past a guy who is leaving a few rocks by the side of the road and you think, “Oh my God, how could he just leave his stuff!  I would never do that.  It’s my stuff!”

You notice that the guy is now zooming up the hill, eagerly passing all the other poor suckers hauling their wagons.

Gosh, the guy sure doesn’t seem to miss his stuff, you think to yourself.

“Maybe I ought to give that a try.”

Why did I want to cry when the wagon fell off my desk?

As weird as it sounds, when all the rocks were stacked in the wagon, they were at least contained.  My life–the good, the bad and the ugly–was at least held within the sides of the wagon.

When the rocks scattered on the floor, you would have thought my dirty laundry had just fallen out of a truck.  I felt a little mortified–by rocks, for God’s sake!  I felt sad at the prospect of starting all over.

Then I had the strangest feeling.  I felt a sense of freedom, like I had just lightened my load.

All this while sitting in my office chair staring under my desk.

Suddenly, I realized that I could refill my wagon any way I wanted.  Same rocks or different ones.  Or none at all.

Heck, I could even take my time.  I could use the upturned wagon as an opportunity to inventory my life and decide what needs to be left by the side of the road.

There’s an idea . . . wouldn’t it be nice to pull a wagon behind you that is not heavy as a Mack truck?

I’m sure going to give it a try.  Who knows?  I might not even pile up rocks this time.

I do have a passion for sea shells . . .

Are you ready to dump your little red wagon?


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  1. Priska says:

    Hi Beth
    I am taking a mid life gap year because I am ready to dump my little red wagon. It’s time to let go of a lot of stuff I have been carrying around for too long. And yes, in mid life, one begins to feel the weight of this load, most of which serves no purpose except familiarity.

    • Beth says:

      Good for you, Priska! Hang on for a wild ride! Know that you have lots of support and no decision is forever. It’s all up to you! Keep us posted.


  2. lisa says:

    This really spoke to me today. I’ve been feeling out of sorts lately. The whole Chick-Fil-A thing really got me thinking about faith, friends priorities etc. It is time to dump my wagon and I am starting today! Thanks for the kick in the rear.

    • Beth says:

      Yay, Lisa! Sometimes making the decision to start is the hardest part. I’ll say a prayer for peace as you embark. I still haven’t begun to refill my wagon. I’ve decided to be gentle and nurturing with myself through the process.

      Big hugs to you!

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