Commitment-Phobe: Advent challenge, day ten
Today’s Advent challenge gave me a great sense of fun and satisfaction, which I had not expected. The challenges were about our impact on other peoples lives through our tidiness or through making things easier for others. The options were:
- Spend some time picking up litter
- Make an extra effort to tidy up after yourself
- Offer to wash someone’s car
Options two and three were a no for me today: I had done enough tidying up after everyone this week; and I didn’t want to stand in the cold washing a car. But the first option seemed easy enough. Some of my choices of challenges are to do with a need to have a sense of personal achievement. In the midst of chaos in my house, the idea of picking up litter on a walk around my streets was very appealing.
In the afternoon, I popped out of the house with my daughter to take a short walk to the shops for a little treat for her. I took two old carrier bags with me, one to put the litter in and the other to pick it up with (I can be a bit of a hygiene freak about things like this.) I told my daughter what I was doing and it became a game in which she spotted the litter and I picked it up. It was satisfying that she was involved, as being young and open eyed, she is always spotting the various abandoned items that end up on our London street, and although I tell her they are rubbish and should be in a bin, I never let her pick them up for fear of germs. Which means that although she cares what her environment looks like, I don’t empower her to improve it.
By the time we got back home, I had collected an empty cider can, some chewing gum packs, a paint covered brush and various unpleasant bits of tissues. We ignored the cigarrette buts. Arriving at my doorstep, I found myself viewing the entrance to my flat, and my street in a new light. I gave myself an extra 20 minutes outside to sweep up and bag all the old leaves that were carpeting the steps and pavement, and I picked out any old bits of rubbish that had accumulated on and around my doorstep and the pavement in front. During that time, I saw people passing by, children having races on scooters and mums telling them to slow down. I got a sense of life on the street.
So often I have walked my daughter to nursery and asked her to avoid the broken bottle glass or the abandoned mattress, or the half full can of beer. But what if I went back and cleaned it up, so that someone else didn’t have to deal with it? Or so that my child could see that taking pride in where you live is a good thing. Because by giving your pavement a bit of love, you are inadvertently giving someone else a bit of love too.