Litter actually. I walk the loop around Echo Lake in both directions each day. I walk for the fresh air and to move my body. I walk both directions to pick up litter. There is a never ending supply and variety. Years ago Char shared that she picks up 4 pieces of litter each day. I took that as good advice, however if I see and can reach it, I pick it all up.
Picking up the litter has been my meditation. I have experienced a full range of emotions. I have been disgusted and angry for all the fast food packaging – garbage in the body and garbage on the roadside. Have you no respect? I have found compassion and sent up a prayer of healing to whomever it was that tosses the empty single serving Sutter Home wine bottle with the cap neatly twisted back on out their car window every day – what might their life be life that a drink before arriving home be wanted or needed? Then there are the cigarette butts – really?! Always here and there along the loop there are butts! Once I came across dozens all at once. I stopped and picked up each one reflecting on the times as a little girl I had seen my father empty a full car ashtray in the parking lot. I like to think I am making reparations, atoning for the thoughtlessness of such an act. I have also looked closely at how I am the one who litters – maybe not actual trash tossed out a window but how have I polluted my body? What trash has filled up my mind? When has my spirit been in the dark places of a Sutter Home bottle? And too, can I surrender? There is so much trash I cannot reach deep into the blackberry canes. Can I let it go?
An Elder man, Curtis, that I frequently see on my walks has thanked me and said on several occasions, “May your tribe increase”. It has. After years of saying so, Curtis now carries a bag and meditates in a similar way. We talk about it how picking up the litter moves us, teaches us, confounds us. Sometimes we both still find the angry places within that the trash provokes. Mostly now for me, I just do it, I just pick it up willingly – not that I want to clean up other peoples trash but I love our Mother and I am happier picking up litter than seeing it lie on the side of the road. I’d much rather this little stretch of Earth be clean and free of trash than complain about it or feel the distaste of it.
I am grateful for the my body’s ability to move so I might pick up the trash. Grateful for the deep thinking that has been spurred. Grateful for my tribe – I know you are out there helping in whatever way you are cleaning up the trash – in metaphor, in prayer, in good deed – wherever that might be.
Today… a Ho-Ho package, a piece of rope, a cardboard tube to a roll of toilet paper, a wad of pink insulation, small piece of a plastic that looks like what remains of a 6-pack ring, a spent piece of weed-whacker cord, and of course, cigarette butts…
Aho Mitakuye Oyasin