Picking up litter is a humble activity. It’s the kind of thing that most folks don’t spend much time thinking about. Oh, from time to time you may notice crews alongside the highway — picking up litter — but more often than not those crews might be convict labor. I don’t know anyone who ever said, I want to grow up to be a litter picker.
And yet that’s one of the things we do here at Highland Ridge as part of our volunteer duties and you have to have a sense of humor about such things as these. It’s not like it’s a job that offers much intellectual stimulation. You hold the stick, you see a piece of litter, you place the litter picker over the litter, compress the handle, bring the picked up litter to the container you’re carrying, and release the handle. Big deal.
So, knowing me, I have to find more of a purpose to picking up litter than just litter picking! It dawned on my Sunday while doing our weekly cleanup after the weekenders left — that picking up litter has positive physical benefits.
For one thing, litter picking is good for eye-hand coordination. I’ve never been great with my hands — I would love to draw, but everything I draw turns out looking absurd and unlike what it’s intended to be. Litter picking is a good way of tuning those muscles so that the jaws some 28” away from my hand picks up just what I want, and nothing more.
Then there’s challenge of picking up multiple objects all at the same time. That started by trying to pickup two cigarette butts at the same time; then I tried three; occasionally I’ll go for four or more. Or I’ll pick up on item, then pick up something very different in shape and see whether I can manage two or more items.
It’s good for your eyesight. It’s one thing to see what’s on the ground — we all think we see that’s there, but oftentimes I came to realize that I’m blind to many objects right in front of me. Often I’ll overlook a piece of trash because it’s partially hidden by a leaf, or embedded in the gravel, or the material doesn’t catch the light and it’s nearly invisible to the eye.
I’m learning that I’m drawn to small shiny objects. No, I’m not talking about jewelry. I’m talking about pop-tops and pieces of broken glass, bits of shiny mylar packaging and cellophane. It’s amazing how many pieces of that stuff a family of 6 — meaning 4 sweet, lovable, but litterbug children. I have never been into jewelry but I’ve become obsessive about shiny objects.
If it’s man-made and on the ground I want it not to be there. Peggy is teasing that by the end of the summer 1/2 of the campground will be missing — as we will have litter-picked it up and it’s been hauled off to the dump. We aren’t that bad, but we do take pride in a clean campground.
Have fun with whatever you do. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated. It doesn’t have to be respectable. Whatever you’re doing — throw yourself into it and have fun doing it. I’m sure by the end of the summer I’ll be glad to hang up my litter picker for a few months; perhaps forever — how should I know how I’ll feel in 3 months — but this thing is sure: I will have had a ball all summer long doing whatever we’re doing.
All of this came to mind today while talking with a camper who kept peppering me with questions about what our duties are. And it dawned on me that, yes, we do have a list of duties to perform here, but we’re here by choice, we like this place, and we want it to look the best it can for our guests. As a result I don’t really think about what we’re doing as our ‘assigned’ duties. In fact the list of our duties is quite vague and general. We add something to it, we might skimp on a couple others, but bottom line, net-net, the campgrounds look good, the campers are having a good time and our bosses are happy. What could be better than that?
It’s all about how you see the world around you, and what you give of yourself.
Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll be here to chat again tomorrow.