I aim to walk for an hour every day. It clears my mind, gives me a hit of nature – proximity to water, trees and sky is a healing balm – and gets me moving, since, as a writer, my job is deskbound. On the path, I often bump into other regular neighbourhood walkers, which I’ve found is a lovely way to connect with the community. There’s one delightful elderly couple who never fail to have a big, wide smile on their faces, no matter the weather, no matter the latest calamity in the news, or whatever else might be unfolding in their lives. They walk, they laugh together and they savour every step. Often, one of them takes photos of the flowers (yep, they stop and smell them, too). More than once, they’ve asked me to snap a pic of them posing in front of a bright hibiscus or pink camellia in bloom. My reward is the most sincere “thumbs up” I’m likely to ever receive.
Sometimes (always, when it’s rubbish-collection day), there’s one other component to my walking routine: I pick up rubbish, which I’m nominating as today’s act of Conscious Kindness, since it’s fresh on my mind from this morning. I’m calling it an act of Conscious Kindness because it’s all too easy to walk past a piece of rubbish; our minds may not even register the takeaway-coffee cup rolling on the road, or the plastic wrapper drifting down the gutter, so sadly common a sight it’s become. I know because I too have walked right on past, even as (a quiet) internal voice nudges me to, ‘Pick that up.’ What makes us deny those inner cues? Who knows? Embarrassment, perhaps, apathy, or the misguided idea that someone else will attend to that. Nope. These days, I’ve trained my brain to notice the litter and act, because one piece of plastic I pick up and put in the bin is one less piece of plastic ending up in our waterways and into a sea creature’s stomach. And that’s a thought that puts a smile on my face.
Will you join me in picking up rubbish when you’re out and about?