photo by Alexis
For the Love of the Broken, Beautiful World
My love for this broken, beautiful world compels me to clean up after myself. I do not leave trash in the bathrooms at the beach (where the rule is “pack in pack out). I do not leave trash beside the car, parked at the movie theater. I do not leave trash. Trash is beautiful, in its own way, but it does not belong in our living spaces. It needs sorting: recyclables, compostables, and garbage. It needs us to care for it, just as we care for this beautiful world. Leaving trash at the beach is mean to the people who come after us. And mean to ourselves. Kindness is picking up after ourselves.
A worthy goal (not always as easy as taking my empty bottles with me) is to leave behind a better world. A cleaner planet. Kind words spread out like ripples in the water. I am kind whenever possible (and it is always possible, just not always achieved – I am human, I need practice).
My love for this broken world compels me to pick up after you, unless the amount of trash is so horrifying that I am overwhelmed. The piles at the beach I left, I could not bear the thought of them in my car. Next time I will take heavy duty bags with me, prepared.
My love for this broken world shocks me in its intensity sometimes. Most of the time, to be honest. I do not understand hating people on the basis of skin color or sexual preferences or any other not-trying-to-kill-me basis. (And even then, hate is a strong emotion. Do we need to hate in order to escape our would-be killer? Probably not. I practice not hating the people who would deny my freedoms, as a bisexual, liberal, Jewish woman. It’s difficult but possible.)
There’s love and then there’s love. My love for this world, which I believe is broken and in need of repair (which as a Jew I call Tikkun Olam – repair of the world), is greater. The world is me, don’t you see? The world is me. And it is you, and so – we are both this world, you and I, interconnected.
Inter-being, as Thich Nhat Hanh says.
This world is us, you and me, and the people who don’t know or care or understand, too. That’s the brokenness, that we are all part of, you and me and everyone who will ever be. When you throw your lunch trash into a corner and pretend it doesn’t exist and walk away, there is trash in your house.
When you yell at the driver in front of you (as I sometimes do), you are yelling at yourself.
What we do to one, we do to all. We are all one, inter-being.
And so I come back to kindness, always. Kindness doesn’t dirty anyone. Kindness doesn’t leave garbage behind. Kindness says “thank you” as she diligently picks up the trash others have left behind. (Kindness remembers an extra heavy duty trash bag and possibly rubber gloves.)
Kindness is how we show our love to this broken world. To ourselves, to our inter-beings.
And love is the only way I know to repair the world, to fix the broken parts that cause mothers to lose their shit and kill their babies, to cause grown men to casually kill each other in parking lots. You can’t show me a perfectly whole, clean world, because it doesn’t exist. We have violence and pain in our hearts, every one of us, because none of us are separate from this beautiful sacred mess.
But we have love, oh we have love. And we have so many ways to show our love, to grow our love, to speed the healing of this world, which is us, which is home.
May we begin by leaving ourselves a cleaner planet. May we begin by spreading kind words instead of angry ones. May we begin by loving the world, ourselves, one moment at a time.
|Alexis Yael is a poet and photographer living in northern New Jersey with her soul mate and their incredible, nerd to the second power (autistic) kid. Her superpower is empathy and her kryptonite is depression and yes, they are intrinsically entwined. She has been blogging about her wabi sabi life since 2002. And yes, she shaved off her dreadlocks this spring, in case you were wondering.
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