It’s on our morning walk that sir Oliver and I walk past houses who’s front door verge on the sidewalk. And it’s the third day that there is more litter on the street than normal. We had some storms and garbage day, and those 2 are not really best friends. There is one front door, where there is this crushed empty can of cat food, lying on the sidewalk. Every day sir Oliver sniffs it and goes crazy about it.
Also today I had to divert sir Oliver to get my attention and walk along with me. The front door of this house was open and a lady was busy to get herself ready to go to work by car. She almost stumbled over sir Oliver, who was in dog heaven of the scent that was still coming from the crushed can.
As always I spoke to sir Oliver telling him that it was no use to smell an empty can and we’d better move on. That moment the lady looked at the sidewalk and noticed the can. She said to sir Oliver: yummy! I looked at her, and apparently I gave her a certain look that made her straighten herself saying: or maybe not. She picked up the can and said: we better throw it away, and disappeared in the house.
Unexpected things happened within me, at first I became mad at her for saying yummy. Who says yummy, when there isn’t any yummy? And then when she picked up the crushed can, I was mad again that she hadn’t picked up the can days ago. I figured she must have stepped over the crushed can several days now when going to work or somewhere else.
In that moment she was, in my eyes, a terrible lady. Although it felt good that she was the bad guy, so to speak, something was off. It was too easy in a way, to get internally mad at someone I do not know. I had been building the anger up over those 3 days, wondering who let this litter out on the street. So I had been mad at someone and now all of a sudden this someone got a face and a body and I could divert my anger towards her through looking in an evil way at her.
Indeed I had been building up this anger about litter on the streets over time, and yes when litter lands in my front garden or on the sidewalk, I pick it up and throw it away. I want others to do the same thing, but others do not know I have this desire or wish.
And still this explanation was too easy for how I responded. I had to ask myself, who am I in this situation? Why do I get mad at others? Why am I disappointed in others? And why does it touch me so bad that I get angry?
So what if I am not angry at others for abdicating their responsibility and not picking up litter when it is actually in front of them? What if the anger I experience is actually meant for myself? What am I then communicating with myself?
Thus I tried to get in touch with this anger and imagined it was anger towards myself. Where am I disappointing myself and am I angry at myself when it comes to litter and taking responsibility? I realized that I could as well, already 3 days ago, picked up the crushed can and throw it in the first bin I would see. Why did I not do anything, and pointed fingers at others? It was easier to let it be their problem and not mine. In fact I found that I was already taken responsibility for my own street and saw that as enough.
Then I pictured myself with a litter picker and a garbage bag and right away getting confused how I would manage that with walking sir Oliver as well. Not sure how I would be able ti rake responsibility here. So maybe, I should loosen up a bit. I can pick up things that sir Oliver goes crazy about and throw it in the next bin. I cannot de-litter my whole city by myself. What I can do, is being nicer to citizens and not give them a look that makes them shiver. I could have thanked the lady for picking up the crushed can, instead of thinking she’s 3 days late. I simply better focus on myself, see where I can improve myself and where I can be nicer and stimulate others to do the same.