My apartment is next to a stairwell. A few days ago, someone left a small trash bag at the foot of the stairs. I guess it required too much effort to take it the extra fifty feet and put it in the dumpster like a normal human being.
I hate seeing garbage. I hate seeing it on the side of the road, I hate seeing it in parking lots, I hate seeing it in yards…and I especially hate seeing it right beside my front door.
Like my good friend Dr. Seuss said, I do not like it here nor there, I do not like it anywhere.
I looked around to see if I could find the culprit, but of course, no one was there. I briefly thought about throwing it away myself, but my inner gremlin got the better of me, and I decided that I wasn’t about to do someone else’s chores for them. So I left it there.
I got home from lunch, and it was still there. I went out to check my mail that evening, and it was still there. I went to bed late that night, and it was still there.
The next morning, the contents of the bag were strewn around the sidewalk. Apparently, there was food in there, and the neighborhood stray cats tore the bag apart to get the food. Now, instead of a single trash bag (which was bad enough), bits of paper, styrofoam, and plastic were littering my sidewalk. This situation lasted for three days.
It was seriously damaging my calm.
Every time I left my apartment, seeing the trash pissed me off. Whenever I came home, seeing the trash pissed me off. Again and again, and it was making me angrier each time. Since it didn’t seem to be bothering anyone else (especially not the fuckface shithead kumquat motherfucker who left it there in the first place), I eventually gave up and cleaned it up myself. I got a fresh trash bag, put all the trash in it, and then took it to the dumpster.
Leaving my apartment the next time gave me such a good feeling. I felt calm and peaceful again, and so much more relaxed. I didn’t even realize just how much tension and stress the garbage had caused until it was gone, but I could definitely breath more easily.
So here’s the lesson, kids. A messy house, or a messy car, or a messy yard causes you stress. When you see trash (or even just clutter) it elevates your stress levels and darkens your mood. It’s worse when it’s not your own mess, but it’s still really bad even when you caused it. You might not like cleaning, and you may hate cleaning up other people’s messes, but when you do it, you are rewarded by the increased peace and happiness you feel.
Cleaning is a gift you give to yourself.