Friday, November 4, 2011

Carting Off

She told me to leave it. That someone would come and take care of it – in fact, it was someone’s job. I just stood there. This is the woman who raised me to return pencils after I borrow them, to pick litter off the street and recycle it, to donate extra money to charity, to help whenever and wherever I am. And now, she’s telling me to leave our shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot. I was shocked.

No really, I was flabbergasted.

My mother is a single mother of three and she taught all of us to help people. She taught us that it’s our duty as humans to help others – to improve situations, even if it’s only a tiny change. It’s because of these lessons that my biggest fear is that I’m not a good person.

I joke about doing “my good deed” for the day, but I honestly have to force myself to stop thinking if I’ve done enough. I cannot explain this properly, but I’m constantly worried that I’m not helping the universe. I won’t try to pretend that my life is significant on a global view, but I believe that by putting good in, good will come out.

Returning a shopping cart to the store may not seem like a big deal, but it’s surprising the amount of people who don’t do it. So many people that stores created a job just to combat the issue. I believe that by retuning the cart helps that person and somehow that will snowball into something bigger. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s what I was taught. That’s what made her comment so confusing. It was like she had given up.

I won’t pretend to know the details of my mother’s life. I did at one time, but a space has grown between us. In many ways, I’m a stranger in my own family (but that’s a story for a different time). My mother is a beckon of hope for me, if she can not only survive her life but also continue to spread good there’s a chance I can too.

But now that’s she given up, I have to wonder: what’s the point of even trying. If she can’t do it, how can I?