When something simple uncovers something more
It occurs to me that my life has become like one of those 3-bladed wind turbines. Each blade has a name. The first one is Anger, and it starts the whole contraption moving.
About a month ago I began picking up litter during a weekly Saturday walk. I travelled the left side of the street and easily filled a garbage bag. It felt good. The next week I walked the right side and did the same. Still felt good. On week three I returned to the left side. But about half-way through filling another bag with cigarette butts, beer cans and assorted flotsam, it occurred to me that every item I was encountering had been boorishly discarded during the last 2 weeks…after I had already cleaned this up once before.
The turbine began to creak into motion as Anger caught a breeze.
“Who ARE these people?!”, I asked aloud of no one. “What makes smokers think they can just toss their nasty garbage in the street?”
The turbine began to pick up speed.
“And what’s with fast food wrappers and energy drink cans? I never find an apple core or partially eaten salad!”
The turbine accelerated as I imagined the average litter bug; the car they drive, the dim, smug expression on their face as they roll down the window and toss garbage into a sensitive watershed…
“What are they THINKING? Are they stupid? Arrogant? Mean? Probably all three!”
Apathy pushed Anger away.
I stopped and looked up. Seeing more trash spread out in front of me, I estimated that I would fill my bag quicker than I did 2 weeks ago. Based on this (albeit very small data set) there’s a statistical chance I was somehow making things worse.
The second blade called Apathy engaged and now the turbine was really moving.
“What’s the actual point of this?” I asked myself. “I’m obviously not going to make a difference here. The fools who can’t think past the interior of THEIR OWN CARS aren’t going to change because I pick up after them!”
The thought occurred to me that maybe I should do it anyway so at least I feel better.
But I did NOT feel better.
Comedy swings in for the win.
As I continued down the road contemplating the utter meaningless of this endeavor (and for some reason, every endeavor I have ever undertaken) my trash-grabber broke.
Now IT’S trash.
Blade number three engaged. Comedy.
I’m sure I looked like a poster for mental health awareness as I stood on the sidewalk madly working the lever of a floppy trash-grabber, waving it in the air and laughing.
I imagined tossing it in the gutter for some other chump to come along with a shiny new trash-grabber, picking it up and complaining about me.
Sometimes life is a blur
Comedy accelerates the turbine to full speed. The blades are a blur and I can no longer distinguish them from one another…Anger, Apathy and Comedy. I can’t tell them apart. Slowly, over the next few days, by way of distractions, naps, prayer, and the presence of loved ones, the turbine slowed and came to rest.
But it’s Saturday again. Time to grab my shiny new trash-grabber and get out there.
Originally published in the Daily Herald