You can tell a lot about a person by what he or she leaves behind.

That would be particularly true when someone dies and family members or friends pick through the finances, belongings, or correspondence of the deceased. Was the person a giver or a hoarder? A saver or a spender? A romantic or a realist?

But we don’t have to die to leave a trail of evidence. I know one of the neighborhood kids had a quick breakfast of leftover Super Bowl fodder for breakfast, for example, because the bright orange puddle of vomit at the bus stop included big chunks of unchewed kielbasa.

And it’s rather easy to tell which neighbors care very much about the environment when garbage day comes. Houses like mine have one small bag of trash and a bin filled with recyclables — while other houses have overflowing garbage cans alone. Check out the recycling bins and you can tell whether the residents enjoy milk or soft drinks, wine or beer — and in which proportions.

Maybe that’s why some folks would rather hide their habits inside trash bags.

Physical leavings are obvious, but not the only evidence of the kind of people we are. As we go through each day, do we leave a trail of rudeness, or of kindness? When we interact with others, do we leave them feeling better or worse, hurting or hopeful?

What will be left in our wake today?

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