I've been thinking a lot about the human sense of contribution. The idea that everything you do matters is quite life-changing. I remember watching a lecture a few years ago and, there is one concept that stuck with me, and it might not seem like a radical idea at first, but when you put it under a clean lens, it really starts building and changing everything you do.
And this is the idea of being a node in a network. And you can easily think that what you do doesn't matter that much. That you are only a genetic variation in an almighty multiverse. When you can truly reverse it and formulate a healthy way of viewing life and thinking that everything matters.
I've been doing this exercise lately, where every time I'm going outside for a daily walk, I will pick up at least one piece of trash, of garbage. It doesn't really matter how small or big it is, but only about leaving the world just a little bit healthier when coming back to my comfortable home after a day's journey into the outside world.
And I found that this helps my daily sense of contribution. And on a micro-practical level, it helps the world.
We people usually get caught in the macro, running after an end goal that's self-centric often in an extreme way. We think that we can only contribute by having power, having money, having fame. We believe that the only way we can make a change is by becoming a giant and leaving our heavy mark on the world. But we are stubborn enough not to understand and comprehend the real impact we can live in the world.
I'm lucky enough to have a small forest nearby. There's a path I can take to get there, and I can see the lake, some birds, some people. It is really connected with to home town. And while I'll admit that I haven't been doing this in a while, the state I'm in right now makes me grateful for this constant opportunity to re-connect.
The process is pretty simple, again. There's nothing fancy or revolutionary to it. It is pretty easy for me to simply put on a pair of snickers and get out of the house. I've read a lot of research about the benefits of a simple daily walk, we have great people in history doing that as well, so I might as well just try it, right?
So I get out of the house and follow a small road towards the forest. I will sometimes use my bike, but I'm trying to make the steps more often. There's a 5-minute walk, and it is usually pretty chill.
And what I would do is I'll take my trusty glove with me, and a hipster cloth bag I've received from a project a few years ago. And off I go.
Notice that my goal in that walk is to re-connect. I'm not placing a huge burden on my shoulders by telling myself that I am going on a big mission to pick up piles of trash and save the world.
What I'm simply saying to myself is that I am going on a mission to reconnect. But I also want to give something back, because I am grateful for the opportunity. And my way is by simply collecting the trash that others left behind, and that is sort of affecting mother nature. And I've been noticing that our internal angriness often reflects on the outside world.
The world has to suffer because we are struggling to find peace, as we are confused with our options. The Paradox of Choice.
It's like we are the spoiled child of the world, causing nothing but trouble. And mother Earth still loves us, but I'm wondering, for how long?
And again it is really easy to say that I'm fooling myself into believing that picking up a plastic bottle from the dry ground can really have an impact on the current state of the world.
But I am not buying it. I'm always asking 'what if?' What if, not everyone, but 10 percent of the people in the world would do the same thing every day? Not every day but every week or month or year!
How would the world look like? But I want to say that you can do it too. You are walking on the street, probably crowded, but do not worry, nobody needs to see you first.
You'd think that society would most likely say something bad about you when seeing you picking a piece of trash off the ground.
You don't know these people and would probably never will, but you are still afraid of picking it up and placing it in the closest garbage bin. You are probably afraid of getting dirty or touching stuff that you don't know where it came from. But deep down, the fear is only superficial, and you know it.
So yeah, I'm picking up the trash.
If you want to get technical, I'm mostly focused on cans, plastic bottles, and random micro plasticky things. You know these small things that are kind of buggy for the Earth's well-being. Like pieces of shrapnel all over all over a solider's body. And nowadays we have the masks?
I'm breathing in the fresh air and oftentimes fool around or come back home and take my bicycle for a ride back at full speed. I do enjoy it. I'm not going to lie.
But again, I'll quickly scan my surroundings, trying to find one small thing I can do to give back. I'm making this state of being a default. And if you are asking 'What is in for me?' well, you are getting plenty. The sun, the fresh air, the benefits of the walk or the run, the calmness of the road. You are getting the daily dose of self-analysis, the meditation. And you don't really need an app for that, don't you?
And I believe we all have things that we are avoiding. Not only when going outside, but also in our own homes. You know, simple things like cluttered desks, tangled cables, and small piles of dust. So I often ask myself, what would the world look like if we stopped avoiding the things we need to do, the things we know are wrong but not too concerning for us.
Now again, if you are feeling left behind in life, lacking a sense of contribution, you can try out my little experiment. You know, just to get out of your head from time to time. And this will hopefully make you truly understand that you can really change the world.
You can find this essay in a video format here.