Earlier this week, before the torrential rains, I spent a couple of hours gathering trash from the roadside near our house. Dragging a black garbage bag behind me, I dug through the ditches to retrieve treasures left for us by travelers up and down our country road. The trash had haunted me on my walks until I could no longer pass it by, so on this particular spring morning, deep knee bends, weight-lifting and stretches were added to my fitness walk.
Judging from the debris I uncovered, we live in a community that prefers Pepsi and Miller products with their McDonalds carry-out. A few other objects gave further indication of the travelers’ preferences, but most are not worthy of mention here. At the end of my trek, my bag was so full I couldn’t carry it to our dumpster, so I stashed it roadside and drove back later to haul it away.
Digging for trash is conducive to thought, and as I slogged through marshy ditches, I came to several conclusions.
- Folks have no qualms about dumping their refuse whenever and wherever the mood strikes. On this day, the trash is tangible – cans, bottles, fast-food wrappers, soiled diapers – but often, our trash comes in the form of sarcasm, anger, bad attitudes, disrespect, foul words, ugly name-calling, negativity. Either way, when we spew our garbage, someone is left to clean up the debris.
- Dealing with someone else’s trash is nasty, dirty work. If I think my “garbage” doesn’t stink, maybe I should ask the one cleaning up after me if he’s enjoying the smell.
- Spread out over a quarter mile (or a lifetime), odd bits of trash don’t amount to much. Gather it up to haul it away, and the weight of it can be more than we can handle. Wouldn’t it be easier to just deal with our trash piece by piece, putting it where it belongs when it comes up?
- Recycling goes only so far. I can sort and pass on the bottles and cans, but it takes effort to turn them into something useful again. Picking up the trash is only half the work and is quickly accomplished. Dealing with it constructively takes much longer. And some trash just remains, well, trash. The “trash” in our lives is like that, too. You can scoop it up and apologize for the mess, but then what do you do with it?
- Greening ditches are so much prettier when the trash is cleared away. Without 2-liter Mountain Dew bottles to spoil the view, you can see the beauty of new life in the roadside grasses and wildflowers waiting to bloom. Take your personal “trash” out of the picture, and everything might look a lot more promising.
I’m sure that if I’d spent more time in the ditches this week, there would have been more discoveries and revelations, but this was enough for one morning workout. Perhaps others will be blessed by the little bit of work I’ve done in my corner of the world and, like me, they’ll be inspired to deal with some of their own “trash”.