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Make yourself useful…

When I was a kid not doing much, which was often, my dad would tell me – in jest, I think – to “Make yourself useful.”

Saturday's haul. It's 6:10 Sunday morning, and I'm about to head out the door, bag in hand, ready to do my thing.

Saturday’s haul. It’s 6:10 Sunday morning, and I’m about to head out the door, bag in hand, ready to do my thing.

It’s been a struggle to do that ever since. But when it comes to our pathways, I take a bit of the opposite approach. I am something of a path-Nazi; no piece of plastic is too small, no piece of paper too unsightly to pick up.

My suggestion for path-neophytes is to start small, think small. If you see one Coke or Pepsi bottle or one beer can or one McDonalds / Burger King wrapper or one chunk of polystyrene foam along the way, pick it up. Build from there. The removal of even one item from our environment is forward progress. You’ll be amazed at how you feel: pride, accomplishment – and payback against the evil trash throwers.

Like my dad said, ‘”Make yourself useful.”

About Dave Bradley (264 Articles)
I was a writer by trade so one would think letters would come easily for me. It is so now, but wasn't always that way. Indeed, the first letter was written the Monday after Ellen started her freshman year in college. For years I've wondered - with no good answers - why I swiveled my office chair toward my computer screen to fire up a word processing document for that first letter. I just don't know. I just did. Perhaps it was the angst of separation or wanting to say things that had gone unsaid at that moment when we parted ways in front of her college dormitory. What was a one-off became habitual. When her brother Reid enrolled in the same college, his name was added to the salutation line. They were kids then and are adults now. No matter. The letter writing habit remains so today. I live in Brevard, North Carolina. I'm well away from where they live and don't see them nearly as often as I'd like. That's why letters, at least to me, fill the void of distance. The pages give me something to say and the space to say it. There is no assurance they read the letters; indeed, I have never asked if they do so. With the pace of their busy lives who could blame them for letting a letter sit unopened? Over time, it has dawned on me that the letters are both communicative - and cathartic. By nature, letters are about the writer; the writer can only write about their situation. Perhaps that is as it should be. It's all about the here and now from one person's perspective.

1 Comment on Make yourself useful…

  1. Mort Mortensen // June 2, 2013 at 4:24 pm // Reply

    Useful… as well as ornamental.

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