Saturday, March 15, 2008

So Glad I Did

So-glad-I-did is a category of activities that I don't really want to plan and, when the time comes, I don't really want to stir myself to do, and then I get there and have a wonderful time and I'm so glad...

This morning was one of those: a lakeshore cleanup. I live near Jordan Lake, a large many-armed body of water in central NC. I regularly paddle my little inflatable kayak there in warm weather, and gaze fondly upon these waters from the bridge several times a week.

So, when I saw the notice asking for volunteers to pick up trash along the wooded shore today, it seemed a natural for me to take part. Yesterday I wasn't in the mood. (And had a better offer.)

But sticking with the original plan, I got out there in my rubber boots and gloves and picked up thousands of tiny bits of styrofoam and slivers of plastic, as well as bottles, a bike tire, fishing lures, lots of cigar filters, and one syringe, which I first took for a thermometer. There were about 50 of us toting Hefty bags and a motorboat taking the filled bags back to a landing.

The amassed trash after 4.5 hours of gathering would have filled a small barge.

And now at midday, after such a productive and invigorating morning, I feel great.

What's always amazing is that that good feeling is such a surprise, because I'm coauthor of a book on this subject: The Healing Power of Doing Good, written with Allan Luks. The whole point of the book is that doing a good turn helps the health and well-being of the doer.

You'd think I'd remember.

Having the mental category of so-glad-I-did helps me override the impulse to stay in my usual routine. And that impulse is unnervingly strong.

The morning did have its humbling aspect, though. When I got back to the central trash-bag location, I discovered that somewhere out there in the woods, I'd lost my sunglasses. Left them for someone on the next trash detail to pick up and high-mindedly think: how could anybody toss litter so cavalierly?

Still, I'm glad I got out there.

If you like this post, please bookmark it on, share it on StumbleUpon, vote for it on Digg. Thanks so much.

No comments: