Sunday, March 29, 2009

A handful of rubbish

Not a good start to the day. Awake too early (for a Sunday) work on my mind. A wet bed (again) and a grumpy child. I need to go out for a walk and escape for time out.

Around the park I am trying to settle my restless, busy thoughts. I pass the hebes and think “if only I could take the whole day out with nature, I could find some peace and focus”.

Then I see a piece of paper in the stream and I decide to pick it up and put it in a bin near by. Just one less piece of rubbish to clutter up one park in one world. A tiny action.

Then of course I see more rubbish lying near by, so I pick that up too. A few steps more, and I pick up more. Already I am growing tired, and realising my limits in this singular effort. At some point I decide to stop and let what is really little more than a symbolic gesture close.

I think then about how little I can do on my own, what I have heard about the real power for change being in collective efforts. If only I could organise a clean the park campaign, together we could make a real difference. Yet I know I do not have the will, the time, the energy to do this. Well I have, but I choose not to.

I then feel quite lonely, picking up rubbish all by myself. Tired, and a bit defeated as I turn around the circuit towards home.

Suddenly, looking up, I see a man, a jogger, older and fitter than I am, going across the park. He is stooping and picking up rubbish as he goes. Another lone campaigner. I have a sense he has been doing this for a long time, as part of his routine. I am filled again with hope, and so I pick up my bag and pick up some more rubbish.

I pour out half a bottle of raspberry fizzy drink onto the grass, put the bottle in my bag, and walk on.

A little later, I remember that a hungry person who picked up that bottle would drink the contents. Whether someone had spat, or peed in it, or not. The food scraps in my bags of rubbish might be his only breakfast today.

My hands are dirty now, and I hold them at my sides. I am contaminated by the rubbish of the world, and I long to wash my hands.

As I walk up the hill towards home, I know the real challenge for me is when I have no water to wash my hands, and I need to rub my nose. In it.