I was out for my morning walk. It was a lovely still morning with a pale, almost white sky, and a bank of gray clouds tinged with pink on the edges showing above the tree line.
Nothing was really on my mind, I was just enjoying the feeling of walking and the silence of the morning.
And then the garbage truck turned the corner.
As I walked, it gained on me. Eventually it was right beside me, huffing, puffing, groaning, and stinking. After a few minutes I couldn’t take the noise and smell anymore so I stopped walking. I took pictures of the sky for a bit until I thought it was far enough ahead of me to not matter too much.
I said “Hello” to the neighbor out with his dog, and turned the next corner. I could see the garbage truck up the road and tried to slow my pace, but eventually I was only a few houses behind it.
Then I remembered what the wise ones say, “Whatever is going on in your life, learn from it.” So I turned my attention away from the silent peaceful morning and beautiful sky, to the lesson of the garbage truck.
As I watched, it lifted its loader and dumped the trash into the back of the truck, and then closed the top. You’ve seen what happens haven’t you? Pieces of paper, a plastic bag, and a few other pieces of garbage floated behind the truck as it moved away.
Ah ha. The lesson. I have two of them for you!
As you are busy throwing away what you no longer need in your life, you know those thoughts, ideas, and actions that once might have worked but no longer do, be careful. Be careful that what you throw away isn’t impacting someone else because you were not careful in how you got rid of it.
I took EST (now Landmark) way back when it was a new baby idea. A ton of garbage ideas came up and I worked to get rid of them, but I was not careful.
Maybe it was my youth, maybe it was because I had so much to throw away, maybe because I wasn’t wise enough, but I wrote a letter to my parents. And mailed it.
Although, for me at the time, it was probably accurate, it was garbage thrown on my parents. I have never forgotten how truly uncaring it was. Although I apologized once I grew up a bit, nothing would ever remove that smelly thing.
Here’s the second lesson from the garbage truck.
If you are going to walk, or drive behind one, you will get garbage aimed at you.
Besides the practical meaning of this, it also means, if you are one of those people who listen to others as they work out of their garbage moments – whether you do it as a profession or as a friend or family member – be careful.
Garbage is garbage. It gets thrown out to stay out.
I guess there is one more lesson here.
We would have less garbage to throw out if we didn’t pick up things and ideas that are not useful to us. It is not necessary to buy everything being sold to us, either as a physical object or mental idea.
Be thoughtful about what you choose to let into your life, and you will have much less to throw away. And much less possibility of hitting someone else with it.
Thank you garbage truck!