Thursday, October 22, 2009

One Man's Trash Is . . . Still Trash

Nothing ruins a good walk like globs of trash littering the sides of the road. After muttering curses for a while against the people who use the scenery as their wastebasket, I finally realized that I could pick up the trash and then I wouldn't have to look at it. The next time I set out, I carried a kitchen trash bag and a pair of gloves. Before I had gone half-way up the hill, I had filled the bag and could barely carry it. (That was when I learned to start collecting trash on the way down the hill.) It was a Sunday afternoon and several people drove by, but no one acknowledged my lonely quest for tidiness. Maybe some of them said to themselves, "Look at that poor lady cleaning the roadside. I swear I will never toss another beer can out the window."

I did have plenty of time to make some observations about litterers:
In my neighborhood, at least, Busch is the beer of choice to swig in the car and toss out the window.
Malboros are a favorite of litterers.
Cigarette filters are not biodegradable. Couldn't we get them to put that on the packages? Would anybody care?
Construction workers seem to lose a lot of equipment along the road. I found a level, a box of screws, and some siding.
I couldn't understand the reasoning of people who toss out soiled disposable diapers. Then I looked up "disposable" in the dictionary, and it became clear. "Disposable" means "designed to be thrown out." The diaper tossers are very, very literal.
The strangest object I found was a long green shoelace tied around the neck of a plastic alien. Maybe someone was taking the alien for a walk and it got away. I took the shoelace home to repair something, and the alien--well, it's pretty cute. I think I'll keep it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Will You Won't You Will You Won't You

I have been noticing with pleasure the play of serendipity in my life. It happens when I make myself open to invitations to do something on the spur of the moment--those gentle nudges that are so easily drowned out by other voices: That's a waste of time! Too tired! Too far! Too hard! Too cold! Etc!
I decided to sort and file a pile of papers in my office that I had been avoiding and found an important document that I was afraid I had lost. Hidden in plain sight.
Even though I was busy doing other things, I decided to drop by the library in a nearby town to see if they had an audio book I could listen to on an upcoming trip. There I met a wonderful librarian, Irma, who's going to be a new good friend.
I decided to take a road trip to visit a friend in Massachusetts and ended up getting to spend a couple of days on a island, in a cottage she had serendipitously found on Craig's list.
While there, I wanted to go exploring. But when I woke that morning, the wind outside the window sounded like a cold winter gale. I went anyway, and found my way around to the wild and rocky "back shore" of the island. The wind had only been bluffing.
Spur-of-the-moment walks when the weather is iffy often reward me with surprises: a graceful waterfall, a perfect rainbow.
So I'm trying to keep an ear out for those whispered invitations: "Go this way." "Try this." "Won't you join the dance?" They rarely lead me astray. Or rather, they do, but sometimes astray is where I needed to be.
By serendipity, when I was thinking about this topic, I found this quote in Peaceful Living, by Mary Mackenzie: "This is your moment to live. How can you spend it in the way that you most enjoy? Be conscious and present as much as possible in your life and you will feel more connection and joy in all of your activities."
And this quote comes from One Day at Teton Marsh, by Sally Carrighar: "The Otter found the outlet of String Lake, traversed another lake and came to the outlet of it. The deep drift in the lakes was slight. No senses could perceive it. He swam, however, with so little willfulness that the flow could could give his movements a direction. The guidance of instinct is like that flow, is like a trail in the water that can be followed, although it cannot be consciously scented, seen, or felt."
I wish all of you many moments of serendipity in your days, going with the flow.