There's this walkway (alley? path?) near my house. It goes from the neighborhood to La Tijera Blvd., and is the perfect shortcut to get to The Coffee Co. It's situated between two houses, then you make a sharp right turn, then a left, and it brings you out right next to the church. And it's disgusting. Sometimes smells like urine, full of trash and weeds. When Mark lived here, we used to joke that as you turned that blind corner, you needed to be ready for anything, because you never knew who/what you might run into in there. And actually, I've never run into anyone; I'm not even sure that anyone else actually uses this path. Maybe all the disgusting stuff just blew in with the wind and got stuck. Or maybe it's all been there for the last 10 years, because nobody has bothered to clean it out.
I would like to clean up this pathway. Actually, Jake is the one that suggested it. As we were walking along it one day, I said something about how gross it was. And Jake asked why the people who owned it haven't cleaned up their trash. As I tried to explain that nobody really "owned" it, I realized that in fact, we all kind of own it, especially those of us who use it. Since then, each time we walk through, Jake reminds me that we need to come back and clean it up. And each time I think about how he's right, but wonder about the logistics of it. I mean, it's disgusting, and I don't want to be touching the trash, and I certainly don't want Jake to. And what am I supposed to do with Brody? He's not just going to sit happily in his stroller and watch, and I can't do it while he's running around in the mess. And even if I figure out the logistics, will picking up the trash really make a big difference? It's not suddenly going to be a beautiful alley just because the paper cups and food wrappers are gone. I don't have any special talents to paint a mural along the wall, and even if I did, who's to say that it won't be covered with graffiti before long? And really, how long will it take before the weeds grow back and there's more trash?
But these are the same reasons that all of us struggle with volunteering our time, money or efforts to fix the problems in the world. There's not enough time, and it's too hard to figure out the logistics. What difference can I really make, and will it last? And I know that the answer is, if we all do something, even a little, it adds up, and we keep on working towards our goal. And that's the reason that I need to start somewhere, even if it's just a small, little-used alley near my home. Because I know it will make a difference to at least one person, and that's my son.