Friday, August 1, 2008

Pondering life...and garbage

I adore working in the city. While walking into work I make a mental note of the trash on the street. It's typical to see beer bottles and pizza boxes. But ever so often I encounter an odd piece of trash which is fascinating enough to record in my Moleskine. So far here is a list of the interesting trash articles I recorded.

broken hot pink flower barrett
DeLux DuRag
icy pop sleeve
plastic shower curtain ring
crushed cigar case
barbie doll head

In June a squirrel died on Gilmer Street. I don't know how it died, the body was pretty well intact. Perhaps it ate bad trash and died of a stomach bug. The squirels in this town are ragged with shredded tails and caved bellies.

The squirrel died right on the side of the street, little paws reaching towards the curb. I saw the squirrel on a Thursday. I was looking for parking but refused to park on top of the dead squirrel. By the Monday the corpse was covered in flies, steaming in the summer heat. Again I would not park here, and it appeared, nobody else would either. By Thursday the squirrel had decomposed, it's canine teeth showing long through the decayed upper lip. Just a few flies circled the squirrel now. It's ribs showed through the translucent dead skin. Only patches of fur remained on it's head and tuft where his tail once was. By the following Wednesday the squirrel was only bits of bones, garbage and street grime burned into the blacktop. Then the sweeper trucks came around on their monthly clean up, and all traces of the squirrel were washed away.

I apologize for the morbidity of that story. It struck me deeply, how science ultimately conquers the art and love we create in life. Perhaps in the end, all this heartache is nothing that can't be cleaned up by a city street sweeper. I realize I know nothing about my great great grandmother. Does anybody?

Because as I am living this life, as I am experiencing miracles and blessings I want it to make a difference in the universe. I fear that the only traces of how we lived our life is the trash blowing down Broad Street on a July morning in 2008.

All this trash. What can we contribute to this macrocosm that will be tangible but not material. How will my great great grandchildren know I was here and that I loved and lived and achieved?

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