When it comes to communication, it’s always better to show than to tell. That’s been the goal I have had in mind whenever I’ve sat down to write. Making statements about truth is great, but relying on them alone forces the reader to accept the ethos of the writer. Let me tell you, I don’t have much of that. So I resort to images, stories and of course, the all-powerful metaphor.

The problem with symbolism is that it’s easily abused, to the point of making it overwhelmingly cliche. And not every notion or philosophy needs to or can be illustrated by superimposing some more comfortably reached or understood (tangible) element over it. Lately, I worry that I’ve done too much of this in an attempt at poetic delineations that make everyone go, “Aaahhh. I get it!” Because before writers are actually paid, those kinds of reactions are our paychecks. Or maybe I’m just vain like that.

★                    ★                    ★

I have a trashcan in my bedroom. I don’t think this is uncommon, but I’m sure a few souls out there cringe at the thought of keeping waste near where they sleep. The receptacle is empty right now, but the bag in it is novel to me. You see, this plastic liner is scented. I can’t really tell what fragrance it’s supposed to be sporting, but it’s some sort of fruity-floral mix. I actually hate everything about it and I and have been unabashedly judging whichever roommate was ridiculous enough to buy such an item. Because good-smelling trash bags are stupid. Garbage stinks because it’s the crap we don’t want. I might be wrong, but I think it’s supposed to smell bad. Have you ever been to a landfill? They smell awful and seagulls and other dirty birds swarm all over them eating things that really, no living creature should. I wonder, if the whole world used fragrance-infused bags for their garbage, if dumps would smell a little less acrid and a little more like grandma’s house. Probably not.

I put urinal cakes in the same boat. Urine should not smell like cherries or anything else that I’d normally want to eat. Our bodily excrement smells awful for a reason, so we leave it the hell alone and get on with our lives. I was a church janitor for a couple of years and still struggle with cherry-flavored candy after that interesting season. I’ve heard before that scent is the most powerful trigger for memories, good and bad.

Here’s where I go all Christian writer on you and make something into a metaphor. Sin and garbage and urine have a lot in common. One might go so far as to say that our iniquity is garbage (that really isn’t much of a stretch). If we follow that through, we see that it should be discarded rather than retained and lived with. Also, it should smell bad, but how often do we dress our self-will, lust and hate up to make it smell better? So next time you take out the trash or make a hasty exit toward the men’s room, please remember that your sin reeks like death and hell and patruli oil. Then live a better life. Much better.

There. I just over-spiritualized trash bags and the strange, little pink things we pee on every day. And you know what? I’ll do it again and again (probably without thinking about it). Maybe it’s just one of those things writers do and when we come up with a good one and it sticks, we’re proud of it. I just don’t know. All I can say is that I hope I can avoid becoming hackneyed and overdoing it.

Writer friends, what are your experiences with this?