When I go to the grocery store I almost always see a shopping cart left in the middle of a parking spot. If I can, I take it and use it or put it in a spot where it’s supposed to go. When I see someone abandoning their cart or leaving things around anywhere that someone else will have to pick up after them, I wonder, “What are you thinking? Do you not think about how you are creating unnecessary work for others?”
I also bristle at seeing someone abandoning an unwanted item on a shelf and aisle nowhere near where it came from, or trash thrown out a window, graffiti on a wall. My feelings rev up to a higher level when it comes to animals or children that are abandoned … don’t get me started!
So the thought occurred to me, why do I care so much about these things? Am I arrogant and self-righteous and being a harsh judge or is it reasonable to be annoyed? A voice in my head took me back to my teen years when I would backpack and camp with a group from a local outdoor outfitter’s store. Our guide told us before we left, “The golden rule of camping is to pack out what you pack in, so don’t leave any trash anywhere and leave the land looking like you weren’t there.” It made total sense. Come into nature, enjoy it, and leave it the way you found it so others can enjoy it.
I think I took the whole idea on as one of my life’s ore values that day, and it still shows up in lots of ways, all of them having to do with the theme of leaving not just people, but the world the same or better than we found it.
I’m talking about your stuff, my stuff, other’s people’s stuff, you, me, people, places, things big and small. It’s a positive way to live, and I really like living this way.
In the therapy room I sometimes deal with clients that are leaving the universe a little worse for the wear, as opposed to making the world a better place. Legal crimes, destruction, abuse, molestation, addiction, stalking, cheating, lying, and the nightmare of how all of those things affect others. It is truly painful for me to see, especially when a person just doesn’t seem to care about the effects at all. I will never understand it, but if I get to ask questions when this life is over about why some people care so much, and others so little, I will.
Now, did I mention that I have the issue of not putting things away or back in their place immediately in my home? Yes, the Becky who loves to clean up the environment and gather up shopping carts is not so adept at home. One of my biggest personal challenges is in keeping my home tidy. Whereas I notice things out of place in a store, community or parking lot, in my own home things will sit on the counter, shelf or table for months before I will notice them and put them away. I have come to believe I have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), unique to the home. Where did she come from? My mother is the most disorganized woman I know, so I simply never saw it done when I was growing up.
I work very hard on the Becky at home, I must say she is much better than her mother is, but she remains a work in progress. As I was writing this I noticed a cast iron skillet that has been sitting on my kitchen counter for a couple of months. The truth is that I didn’t even see it, until I did see it.
What I am wanting to point here as that all the parts of our personality have their polar opposite. The good and bad, the black or white, the up or down. There is the awake and aware, organized, socially responsible Becky, and the absent-minded, cluttered and disorganized Becky. If I want to be mentally healthy, I need to learn to love and accept them both, and ideally, to understand them both. To do that I might see through the lens and get into the mind of organized Becky and note how she thinks and processes things, and then do the same for cluttered Becky. Bringing these precious parts together and accepting and understanding them is the best way to overcome the parts of them that you would prefer not to have. I put the skillet up this morning before work, and hopefully when I get home tonight I will scan the kitchen counters for other errant items. I will feel good about putting those things away. And next time I go to the store and see a cart not put away, I’ll probably grab it and roll it to where it needs to be. Clearly I like the deeds of one part of me a little bit better than the other, and that’s OK!