This morning I went to pick up trash.
A few years ago, when I began running, I was always appalled at the garbage along the Bronx River Parkway in Westchester County, New York. Piles and piles of post-consumer trash, as well as some bigger things – a tire, a shopping cart in the middle of the river, etc. For some time now I’ve regretted not trying to do something there. Now I live in Celebration, Florida, and the trash still drives me bonkers. I pick up litter when I can, and make it a point to be as careful as possible with my own. But a few weeks ago I was finally driven over the edge and into action.
Two things did it – one longer term, and one short term. After the election of 2016, I was so disappointed and frustrated with the general tenor of the conversation in America that I checked myself out of politics, which has been one of my passions since I stayed up in the 5th grade to watch the 1988 election returns. I said at the time that if progressive voices made some noise in the 2018 mid-terms, I would get interested again … and might get active. That happened, and I’ve been trying to figure out how I want to put my money where my mouth is.
And then I was training for a half marathon a few weeks ago and ran past a stretch of road that had so much garbage on it that I was blown away. Just a disgusting amount of trash. A McDonald’s location had recently opened up just up the street, and I felt like I could see yellow “M”s everywhere I looked. But that wasn’t all – while I didn’t get down and look closely, you could tell this area just loaded with garbage.
Well – I have found my issue, I think. I don’t have to be part of a presidential election in order to make a difference. In fact, I will probably be able to make a much bigger difference right here in my own community. I also don’t need to attend enormous river- or shore- clean ups. I can do my part in a much more micro way. Instead of getting mad about the garbage, I’m going to pick it up. And I’m going to try and shine a spotlight on it so people can see and a difference can be made. Who knows.
Enough preamble – this morning I went to pick up trash.