I walked about a mile and then turned around to walk back. When I got to the Smiths plastic bag I’d noticed on the way out, twisted around the twig, I picked it up. Then there was a Styrofoam cup so I put the cup into the bag. Now I was picking up trash at the side of the road, as I’ve seen people do from time to time. Cars whooshed past. Drivers almost always veer away from walkers on this road and I like to thank them by holding up my hand in a gesture of gratitude. But now my focus was on the ground looking for what to put in the bag I may have spared a bird from swallowing. When the bag was almost full I found another one, this time from the Dollar Store. A beer bottle went into that bag. Further along when the second bag was almost full I found an Albertsons bag. By the time I got to my house all three bags were full with paper cups, straws, Styrofoam pieces, liquor bottles, and weathered plastic. I tied them up and put them in the big Waste Management trash bin that serves the four condo units where I live. The bin is usually only half full each week at pick up day, something I admit I’m rather pleased about. I’ve had neighbors living here who would fill that bin up the first day of the trash week with no consideration for the other tenants for the rest of the week. Meditation doesn’t insure I don’t have gripes from time to time.
I came in, washed my hands, and that was it. I noticed that I didn’t feel proud of myself for doing a good deed. I didn’t feel that I’d found my calling. I didn’t feel better or worse for this activity. I just did it. Meditation again—non-attachment, non-judgment, but not non-engagement.
I’m curious to know if anyone else has had the experience of picking up trash at the side of the road and what that was like for you. Please share.