“I wonder how they sleep at night?” I pondered. As I entered the beautiful Robertson Park in North Perth, where the ancient trees have watched serenely over several generations of less becalmed humans, I smiled at the bright blue skies of another dreamy, Western Australian Spring day. I was greeted by a discarded plastic bottle and a piece of paper rubbish, yet only several metres in front of me, I noticed a rubbish bin.
Realising that the poor litterbugs responsible must have been so worn out by their amble through the park that they hadn’t been able to muster up the last morsels of inner strength to crawl those extra few paces to toss their droppings in the receptacle provided, I decided to rescue their spiritual souls from the crippling guilt they were no doubt feeling and to do the job for them.
I was reminded of an old Buddhist friend of mine who had made it a daily ritual to pick up at least two pieces of rubbish and dispose of them. We cannot control the actions of the rest of the world’s population, but we CAN each do our part.
As I recommenced my daily ritual of going for a walk, to ensure at least a modicum of exercise to break up my sadly sedentary routine, I reflected on how small, regular commitments are in fact the key to success.
Success has a multitude of definitions to suit each individual, yet one concept links those definitions – that is the concept that success involves the fulfilment of our own unique values.
If you value money, then the attainment of wealth may satisfy your requirement; if you value cars, then owning that red Ferrari may allow you to be the king of the road; if you value family, then having them close may be the key; travel may tick your box – you get the idea.
If other people value different things to you, as many surely will, then that is their gig. ‘Judge not, lest you be judged’ or to use another cliché, ‘Live and let live’.
In saying that, I couldn’t help ponder at why someone would drop rubbish in such a beautiful park when there was a bin only a few steps away, but there you go – one of my values is about respecting the beauty of the environment where I have chosen to reside and which I share with my neighbours. I was brought up to believe that it’s courteous and respectful to go and put your rubbish in the bin. Perhaps these people had no such guidance from their families. In Australia we are very fortunate that it’s one of our national values to keep the place clean. Not everyone complies of course, but I have been shocked when I visited places like Bali or English train stations – the contrast is staggering!
Here’s a thought for you to consider, however: if you were to adopt a daily routine of picking up just two pieces of rubbish each day and putting them in a bin, the ripple effect could be huge.
Imagine therefore, if you could make a small commitment to two little actions each day or even to two little actions relating to a particular goal or idea each week, the change you could effect over a long period would literally blow your mind.
For example, reading two chapters of a book each day might average out to reading a book each fortnight, or 26 books over a year. I read somewhere that the average Australian reads one book per year after leaving high school. If that were true, then in theory you might be gaining knowledge at a rate that is 26 times faster than the average Joe!
If you walked two laps of the park each day that would be 730 laps each year. If you called two extra people each day that would be 730 contacts you might never have made. If you made eye contact and consciously smiled at two extra people each day, you would begin a wave of joy. If you committed two acts of kindness per day, you could help a community.
Success is not so much the mountain to climb that we might think. Rather, it is a collection of small, daily decisions that we make and act upon to support our core values, for in doing so we become a person whom we and other observers will value.
Until next time, remember to seize the day