A Simple Walk Inspires Us To Pay It Forward
You’ve all seen them … those do-gooders who walk along the side of the road with a bag in hand, picking up the miscellaneous pieces of trash. Maybe you’ve even been one of them. I have on occasion done this myself, and at the end of the walk I’m even more sore than usual from all the bending it requires to remove the debris. This past weekend my husband and I headed out early Saturday morning for a little exercise and found ourselves caught up in this activity – but it wasn’t something we had planned for in advance.
To motivate ourselves to tackle a 5 mile walk, we strategically settled on the half-way mark at one of those organic markets who have a coffee bar and bakery – figuring that was a great place for a break before heading back home. (Don’t judge!) We arrived, ordered our coffee drinks and pastry and settled in at one of the little tables to relax a bit and observe the early morning weekend shoppers. Many of them included young families who seemed to have the same idea as we did – and since toddlers are always early risers, even on the weekend, this gave the parents the chance to entertain the young ones, get some exercise and get their energy up for the new day.
As we sat watching, a young boy, perhaps 10 years of age, came up to the counter and ordered a smoothie. We watched as the smoothie was given to him and he struggled to put the top cover on the plastic cup. Suddenly the whole thing slipped from his grasp and splattered all over the floor. He looked down in dismay, but before we could even react, a gentleman immediately came over, his dad we figured, and started helping him clean up the mess. An older man assisted – maybe his grandfather – and together, it was taken care of with no big fuss. My husband and I were both thinking how differently it could have gone, with impatient words exchanged towards the child, causing him shame and embarrassment … and then we saw something that absolutely amazed us!
As the spill was becoming completely cleaned up, a woman came over to the boy – his mom as it turned out. The men who had been helping stepped away and went to … their own families. That’s right, these were men who saw a young boy in trouble and immediately jumped in to help and once the task was finished quietly faded out of the picture. It was so powerful that tears sprang to my eyes, as I realized I had just witnessed the village helping to raise a child right in front of me!
My husband and I finished our coffee and headed back out for the rest of our walk. As we sauntered along the sidewalk, I spied a plastic bag and spontaneously picked it up and without any discussion we both begin picking up discarded wrappers, bottles, tissues and other litter that had been carelessly left to attach itself to bushes and dirt.
Saturday turned out to be a pretty great day – we got some exercise, witnessed love in action and was inspired to pay it forward by tending to the environment.