Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Talking Trash for Earth Day

“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”
~Paulo Coelho

I take daily walks around my neighborhood, often playing Lisa Gerrard’s “Sacrifice” or Deva Premal’s “Gaté Gaté” low in my ear buds as I wove through the neighborhood. I keep the volume just high enough to drown out the street traffic, but not so loud as to drown out the natural birdsong. The ice and snow have melted in my residential area, unveiling the layers of litter, clothing, red Solo cups, broken bottles, and pieces of furniture long gone to the curb.

People walk by it every day and don’t see it. It happens. The garbage becomes part of the background, or maybe people get depressed by it and they stop seeing it. Where I live, it’s a mixed bag. One block to the west of us is made up of quiet residential homes and the streets are nearly cleaned up post-snow melt after just a couple of weeks.

One block to the east of us is mostly rental apartments. The difference in the condition of the yards and streets is tangible. There is a sense of “I didn’t put that garbage there. It’s not my garbage. It’s not my yard. It’s not my job.”

Just a quick walk around the corner this morning revealed an old sweatshirt, a small plastic child’s pennywhistle, chunks of broken liquor bottles, a rusty metal bedframe in pieces, old plastic bags with soupy dog shit, candy wrappers, a warped phone book, a car gas tank cover, three empty dime bags, a baby shoe, a row of abandoned plastic cups, a plethora of cigarette butts of varying ages, and a deflated basketball. I picked up the garbage, wearing a pair of kitchen gloves, and put it to the curb with my trash.

Side note: As a general rule, I only pick up trash between the sidewalk and the curb, or from vacant and abandoned houses. I don’t go into people’s yards without their permission. I did learn, while walking around and snapping pictures, that other people may not see or want to pick up their own trash, but they sure get persnickety when they realized that I saw it and was documenting it. I guess blinding yourself to something sad only works if everyone is in silent agreement to do the same. I have also learned that most people are more than willing to let me pick up the trash in their yards. Only a few get suspicious that I have ulterior motives… that there might be treasure in their trash that I am lying about. I couldn’t possibly just be doing it because it needs to be done.

I rent. I don’t own my apartment. I don’t own my house. I don’t own my yard. I don’t own my street. But I care what the yard looks like. I care what my home looks like, and what that message says to others when they come to visit. I think the way people live is a reflection of what they think they deserve. I may not have the money to move into a nicer neighborhood, but I can keep my home clean. I can steward myself to the earth that holds me. I can care for it. I can do that much.

It doesn’t matter if it is my trash or not. It doesn’t matter if I was the one who threw the garbage to the ground or not. It doesn’t matter if I own the yard or not. The Earth belongs to everyone and I am a part of it, walking with my eyes open. The garbage is there. Someone has to clean it up.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

I don’t want to live in a home full of trash. I don’t want to come home to a yard full of trash. I don’t want to park my car on a street covered in trash. It makes me sad to see the spring crocuses and daylilies choking beneath so much garbage. We all need a little breathing room. 

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