Sunday, September 10, 2006

"Maybe if I clean up my sidewalk, they will too"

My best friend was born and raised in the big city. She served her time in suburbia. This past spring, when it was time for her to move, returning to the city was a no brainer. Her home is a cute one-bedroom nestled above a music store that specializes in the teaching and repair of violins. A Chinese restaurant is on the corner, an African American-owned newspaper is next door. Across from her is a neighborhood revitalization project. The condos are scheduled for completion the end of October, early November. To know my friend is to appreciate the hustle and bustle surrounding her new home. The street noise and activities may be an intrusion for some; she soaks up the energy with amusement. She grew up in a urban Catholic working-class home. Her father worked four jobs to feed the five he helped give life to with his sacred sperm. Although her intelligence is without question, attending college was not a viable option for her after she graduated high school. Her parents were thrilled because she got married the "right way" before she had her two boys.

After her divorce, she took her artistic skills to a local newspaper. Despite the awards she won for her writing, her upward movement in this field was hampered by her lack of a four-year degree. Her curious nature has led her to study Jung, astrology, music, art, revolutionary war history and current events. She was posting her on-line diary before it became a movement. If she were a boy, during a different era, she would be hailed as a Renaissance man. I lay this out for you to get a feel for the woman behind the "cause of the day."

A couple of weeks ago, she decided to clean up her portion of the sidewalk. She was tired of stepping over the trash in front of her door. Did I mention the fact that she is a Libra? "Maybe if I clean up my sidewalk, they will, too," she said hopefully. Trash cans are placed strategically on the sidewalk. So the mission began. Every day, she swept her sidewalk. Whether it was a sudden sense of responsibility or the guilt of watching this middle-aged uberblonde woman cleaning up their trash, her neighbors started cleaning up their sidewalk. When I met her at her place to go to a play, I looked around and was thrilled. Her block was clean. Maybe she was too close to the situation to notice. When I saluted her good deeds, she just smiled.

It is so easy to point out other people's failings versus taking a personal inventory of how one's action's or inactions could have created the situation - or made it worse.

Someone smarter than I has suggested that you should clean up your own sidewalk. My friend is applying this principle to all areas of her life. By owning and cleaning up our crap, there will be a ripple effect in the universe. If we all clean up our sidewalk, whether this means spiritually, emotionally or physically, like my friend, the world will no doubt be a nicer place.

Where did I put my broom?

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