Thursday, July 10, 2008

esteem-boosting daily service

So, if'n you want to join my no longer secret cult, I think there's one precept that must be followed: service.

Preferably, daily service.

I just got back from an extra-office walk (where I take my iphone and roam around while talking business) where in the middle of the walk I saw that my neighborhood park (The majestic Meadowbrook Community Park) bench had trash all around it. I thought "someone should be paid to go around and pick up this kind of trash..." and realized immediately that I was that someone and I would definitely not be paid.

I made concentric loops around the bench, picking up the trash with my bare hands, and putting it in the now-handy bags left around. There were more recyclables than trash, so it was doubly satisfying. I got to thinking, "I should do this more often", and realized that during my measly 15 minutes of trash/recycling pickup that it would be pretty easy to pull off. I live literally across the street.

As I put the trash in the nearby garbage can (somewhat hidden), I thought for a fleeting second that I wanted people to see me doing it. I wanted people to look at me picking up trash and think "there's a guy doing his part". I then thought that perhaps that was ego-centric of me, wanting people to see me doing this public good. I replied to my own thought "no, isn't that what drives a lot of Toyota Prius sales? the desire for people to see you doing the right thing?". Yes.

So, I think I might just film myself picking up trash and recycling what I can, and sending the clip to Meadowbrook, maybe even YouTubing it. I'm helping, and this is how I'm doing it, and it's not secret, it's service.

Daily Service. If your job isn't service (helping others or the planet), no sweat; you can do some other service activity. Try to do something every day. Make a note of it. Tell people about it. Show it off. If we all do this for our various reasons and some of us do it so we feel better about ourselves, so be it. It's naive to think people can only do real service if it's exclusively benefiting others. Heck, if we became a nation of show-off do-gooders, so much the better. It's a step on the path.

Anyone else feel this way? Ever had a pang of guilt that the selfless thing you were doing was in fact somewhat self-interested? Banish the guilt, I say. If it makes you feel good to serve, do it. just do it.