Finding a New Path to Awareness

A short distance up the street is a pint-sized wooded park between a few quiet neighborhoods. An almost invisible, narrow path weaves its way around the trees and granite outcroppings, making for a decent loop when I feel the urge to get outdoors. This is the path I most frequent when going solo with ze Dog for a stroll. I find 2-3 loops leaves me feeling at ease.

Hello, I am ze Dog in ze trees on ze Path!
Hello, I am ze Dog in ze Trees on ze Path!

Like every other day, a jaunt past the neighborhood gets us quickly into the woods where my furry friend is free to sniff. She doesn’t always stick to the path (what dog should?) so I tend to engage her in my peripheral vision. A few minutes into the adventure, I notice she quickly stops and slowly approaches something shiny in the leaves. She hesitates enough that I interrupt her investigation and snatch up the package of Smarties she was about to inhale. I feel lucky knowing we avoided what could have been an all night puppy tummy ache or much worse.

After picking up the candy I decide it is a little too nasty to carry in my pocket so I “strategically” toss it back into the thicker brush off the path where no dog will ever find it. We continue on our loop, but shortly I hesitate. I feel quite uneasy about leaving that trash behind. Suddenly I remember the plastic grocery bag in my coat pocket.

I have recently started taking some time and meditating in the middle of my workdays. This bag has been my water barrier during those sessions because the grassy area where I sit is a little damp this winter. Today that almost forgotten grocery bag will become the first of many!

I duck into the thick brush, find the candy and plop it into my new trash collection bag. As we continue on the path I begin seeing trash EVERYWHERE! First a piece of gunky packing tape. Then a small clear bag from some electronic product. More candy wrappers. Eventually we find this blanket sized sheet of white polystyrene foam which I shake the ice off of and stuff into our now full trash bag.

We return home and I snap a picture of what I hope is the first of many full bags of woods trash. I promise myself to always take an extra bag along on future dog walks. If my puppy had her way those walks would be every 30 minutes (other than meal time!)

Photographic evidence of my woodland treasure plus a gift from ze Dog...
Photographic evidence of my woodland treasure plus a gift from ze Dog…

I feel like those 20 minutes walking with my eyes tuned to the Trash in the Woods channel triggered something positive in my brain. Thinking about it now brings the following to mind:

The environment is happy when it’s clean

I love being outdoors and it would be a shame to let my selfishness blind me to the items marring its beauty. It is our responsibility to keep mother nature as clean as we found it.

That warm feeling of doing a good deed

Probably a bit of ego satisfaction here, but depositing that full bag of trash into the collection bin left me feeling great! We all know that fuzzy internal feeling of completing a good deed and even something as simple as trash pickup can generate it.

The state of being increasingly aware

Any other walk on this path certainly generates a sense of tranquility with the lungs full of fresh air away from the bustle of civilization. But that extra sense of being acutely aware and noticing something you did not before creates an almost meditative state.

So here is where I am proclaiming a Call to Bags!

I want to challenge anyone who reads this to join me in vanquishing rogue trash from the world a single grocery bag at a time. If your home is like mine you have a stockpile of these bags ready for action! So the next time you venture off into the wilderness, whether the urban jungle or rural forest, bring your friend the humble grocery bag on the adventure. When you return home hopefully you will have helped him succeed in his final calling.

Can you dig it?!
We’re going trash picking, can you dig it?!

update mar-2016, trash gallery:

Going to start adding pictures of trash here so I can keep track of progress. If you are answering the call to bags feel free to email me or link me some pictures.


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