Every day when I walk out my apartment door, I pass the familiar landscape of the city streets, the parking lot, the restaurants and bars on the corners. When I pass the covered bike parking area and bench, my dog Pearl usually likes to sniff in the newly bark dusted area and pick up any garbage the late night customers forgot to put in the nearby garbage can. Yesterday, I had to stop her because I noticed the sign saying, “Broken glass”, pointing to a shattered Coke bottle. Lucky for us someone took the trouble to make that sign. We might have stepped right into that broken glass and hurt ourselves. As we passed it, I actually chuckled and thought, ‘I should take a picture of that sign.’ But I continued walking and thought my photo opportunity had passed.
Nope. For a week now, the sign has remained, pointing out the obvious. Some good citizen took the trouble to find a suitable piece of cardboard and pen to make that sign. It even looks as if the pieces of glass have been carefully arranged to align with the curb. For the last few days, as Pearl and I pass the scene of the crime, I actually laugh out loud at the silliness of the whole thing. Who would take all the time to make that sign instead of simply picking up the glass and throwing it in the garbage 10 feet away?
This connection will seem obvious, but I will tell you that next I laughed at myself for all the times in my life that I’ve done something similar; times I’ve said, “Hey! X is a problem. I wish I could do something about X. Well at least I can raise awareness that X is a problem.” Many times, just acting to try to solve the problem would have been most effective, but I didn’t do it. The energy spent solving the problem would have been equal to the energy spent on raising awareness, but it just seemed like too much effort. Isn’t this just life? Learning to spend time taking care of what needs taking care of? Who needs me to point out the obvious?
I’d like to begin taking care of what needs taking care of; to tend what needs tending so that the world is better because of my actions, not just the same–with a sign. Tomorrow, Pearl and I will remove the broken glass and the sign, as long as someone hasn’t already thought to do this.