“Where do I start with all of this?” I say to the dog sniffing at my feet.
“Where do I start helping the Earth come clean? Where do my responsibilities begin and where do they end in serving the Earth and all of her inhabitants?”
Everything begins with me I have written and written and written. You. Me. We. We the Earth are one people, one planet, one love.
As I approach the little ravine oasis I have fondly come to address as my little piece of the wild, amidst the cement jungle of city life, identifiable milkweed, wild rose, goldenrod, and thistle greet me with their medicine. They always seems to know exactly what I need in the moment. We care for each other in a strange kind of way I deem “the mutual protection society”. I pluck up trash that has been blown or dumped upon her wild graciousness and she, of bountiful wild beauty, shares herself with me.
Today, the little wild is strewn with debris. I stare in wonder, transfixed, breathing in and out, staying with the feeling, as I look around at the scene. My shoulders slump a little as I tie up dog on a lamp post and stoop to clean up the waste upon the face of our home, Earth.
Several large green garbage bags are part of the wreckage, plastic bags and styrofoam containers, food wrappers mostly, granola and candy bar wrappers, even a five dollar bill has been tossed or blown into the wild. As the bag fills, tears stream down my face unheeded, my nose drips, accompanying the silent flow of nameless emotion. Curiously it is not anger this time. Much anger has been vented into the blue upon the beaches of Southern California, specifically Venice and Malibu, over the past several years. Walking the beaches and coastal areas picking up plastic, bottles, broken glass, straws and every waste product imaginable, brought forth incredible rage. This is not my first experience with human carelessness nor will it be my last. It is a daily ritual, cleaning our home, Earth, and I no longer hold resentment or anger, just a wonder at the human race of people waging war upon themselves.
Close to the little piece of wild are two sites of homelessness, strewn with discarded trash, food, and plastic bags. No one is “home” at the present time, unless they are huddled under the sodden lump of blanket. It is difficult to tell.
It seems, in the mass of humanity, there are different classes of homelessness. Some, despite the cold climate of the Canadian winter, (which is much warmer this year than I can ever remember), have neat little tents and shelters that are kept spotless from waste. I witness them tidying up their space some days as I walk the park.
The site I am witnessing today is not spotless. It is havoc.
Where do I begin to help the Earth here?
Where do I begin to help humanity?
I tuck the five dollar bill inside a fold of the sodden blanket structure and haul the garbage, in one of the provided green garbage bags, to the disposal bin close to the site. Do I continue to pick up after this individual? Do I wait for some chance in the future to speak with them and offer assistance to clean up our home?
Continuing to a favourite coffee shop for a hit of the bean I go further into silence, willing the answer to come. Dog and I sit outside the shoppe on a tiny bench. Further and further I go into the question, “where do I start?”
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world” writes Desmond Tutu. But what if I want more, what if I want to help on a bigger scale, how can I help I ask the shining sun that has shown His glorious face this day. How do I help people see we are the Earth?
Walking home on the bustling city sidewalk, which by the way is in a city that currently has a stay-at-home order in place, more litter swells. Take-out food waste and containers mostly, along with plastic bottles and cans of all kinds. I pick up a bag named “Blake” written in large black marker on the stark white bag. “Blake” is nowhere in sight. I approach the window of the food establishment holding the bag up to the order clerk. “No order today, simply a suggestion for waste containers to be placed outside for proper waste disposal and recycling. Maybe it will help the litter problem,” I say. The clerk received the bag, but upon seeing a cup from another establishment in tow, replied distastefully “do not give me your trash, only what is ours”.
Is it your trash because you created it?
Is it my trash because I picked it up?
Is it his trash because he carelessly dropped it?
Where do I start?
I start by asking questions.
I start by sharing my story.