Most days I go for walks. It’s my form of meditation, exercise, and connecting with the natural world. I don’t know what triggered it, but the other day when I was walking I was hit with sinking feelings of sadness and despair from all the horrible events happening in our world. I can’t make sense of it all.
Desperate to shift my thoughts I started looking for unexpected beauty, compassion, and kindness on my walk. I noticed a geranium planted in the middle of a tree trunk at my local park. It could have been planted by the city, but this looked like it was done by the hands of a citizen. I noticed someone had set out a cookie jar full of dog treats in memory of their own dog. I noticed a Tibetan prayer wheel installed in a fence for passing people to spin, sending good intentions into the world. It made me wonder if shifting our focus to that of beauty, compassion, and kindness could be part of the solution to our world’s hurts.
During this same walk, I stooped down to pick up a few empty cans and bottles littering the sidewalk. My mom started the habit in me when I was a child. She’d take me and my brothers up and down our rural county road to pick up cans. She didn’t motivate us with the good deed we’d be performing, but by the money we’d make at the recycling center. The habit stuck and I still find myself picking up empties, although no longer for financial gain.
Last summer I read about this really cool initiative in Australia called Take 3. The idea is to encourage folks to pick up three pieces of trash every time they visit the beach, waterway, or anywhere. I started a habit of picking up three pieces of trash every day. If I missed a day I’d pick up six the next day. At some point I lapsed in my efforts and then I forgot to start again. I still picked up trash; it just wasn’t a daily habit.
I thought about that initiative again as I was carrying the empty bottles and cans home to deposit in the recycling bin. That’s what I would do – pick up three pieces of trash everyday. It’s not going to solve the world’s problems, but it gives me a peace of mind that I’m doing something for a positive change. If I do it for a year, I’ll have thrown away (or recycled) 1,095 pieces of litter. Maybe one of you will join me and we could double, triple or quadruple that number? It may not amount to much, but it’s something.