The Trash Lady

Seva, selfless service in actions

Without breaking her stride, she reached out with a long-handled grabber, snatched up a crumpled soda bottle, and deftly stashed it in the bag hanging from her baby stroller. She was serene, in a meditation, leaving a wake of clean behind her.

As she cruised down the street her graceful swooping of trash reminded me of an orchestra conductor’s wave. Captivated, I could almost hear the melody.

It would be much easier for her to walk by the litter, but she collects all in her path. This action of caring coupled with follow-through transforms indifference into making a difference. 

The Yogis call this Seva, or selfless-service. Not acting to impress, not for personal gain, but because we care. When we care enough, it takes less energy to act than not to.

My street was better for her having walked it. How many of us can say that about where we've been this week?

           We are the epicenter of our community.

Each of our actions, (or inactions) sends a ripple into our world. We don't know how far they go or who they will touch. Once we act, the result is out of our hands.

          We best honor our heroes by emulating them. 

Later, I walked the parking lot at the Yoga studio, picking up every last bit of trash before going inside to teach. Now it's up to me to pass along her ripple, so… tag, you're it.

Now that the seemingly eternal snow cover has peeled back, the debris of a long winter has been revealed. In the spirit of a cleaner world, why not pick up a few pieces? 

I aspire to live more like my neighbor the Trash Lady, to act with skill and caring on what is important to me. To live in Seva.

What matters to you? Will you walk by with indifference or will you make a difference?

I welcome your comments on what matters to you, what you serve.

          Ripple-well today. 

Om Shanti, I'll see you in class. -j


P.S. I'll be away leading a retreat in a few weeks. Two spots have opened up, and the pre-invite list for the Oct 2011 retreat has us almost full-up, let me know if you'd like to get away for a few days of peaceful Yoga. —j

6 thoughts on “The Trash Lady”

  1. Reading this as I sit in my old living room here in CA, reminds me of a time when I lived here and would take a daily walk here in the early morning with a bag, picking up trash with a similar pair of long handled grabbers in hand. I also think of my young Carl visiting MacKerricher Park along the Ocean in Fort Bragg California, picking up all the trash he saw.

  2. What a beautiful observation John. Thanks for the reminder! I will snag those plastic bags littering our school bus stop tomorrow morning.

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