Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hug A Litterbug?

There is a fine line between litter and a gift left behind for the greater good.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m certainly not in support of tossing super-sized garbage out your car window just because simultaneously driving, texting, and sipping a half-caff while cleaning out your purse is way too much to handle… but there truly are times when one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  I learned this first hand.

There is little I appreciate more than a walk down Melrose Avenue, stroller in tow.  Whether for the distraction, the exercise, the smog, the bargains or the people watching, it is a savior for me.  And having your savior available 365 days a year should never be underestimated.

Yes, there is “garbage” to put up with a long the way- congestion, stoplights, hoards of "self-medicating" smokers and the occasional sidewalk sleeper.  But for me, this adventure is part of why I love LA.

I recently woke up not on the wrong side of the bed, but on the wrong side of the world.  Hours later, still in a funk, I went for the usual stroll.  While a gust of wind in this city can bring you anything from a warm desert breeze to a mouth full of exhaust, on that day it brought me this:

I cannot imagine how much “litter” I have ignored in the streets of Los Angeles, but something opened my eyes to this- and they haven’t closed on it since.  Though tempted to bring the paper home, I wanted more to leave it behind for the next passerby.  The message, I brought with me.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I had lunch with my sister and discussed some pretty big life changes on the horizon.  Afterward, I felt the need to recommit to my passion, my life and myself.  Upon leaving the restaurant, I drove down a random alley to hop out and grab something from the back of my car.  When I pulled over, this was what I saw:

Wanting to share some positivity with the world, (or at least a few hundred people), I tweeted the photo, tagged “I Love LA”.  I drove away feeling completely re-energized and as I turned up the radio, with the most serendipitous of timing, I heard the very first notes of Randy Newman’s famous song.

Clearly the person who discarded the note on Melrose hoped for the message to spread.  Whether a regular dude paying it forward after receiving a similar gift, or a struggling artist with a hope the deed might land him a guest appearance on Ellen, or even just a selfless Good Samaritan, it doesn’t matter.  I am thankful, regardless.  As for the graffiti artist, property damaged aside, the same applies.

I grew up in Connecticut and spent several years in Boston before moving to California, but don’t remember ever encountering such poignant messages on garbage or graffiti.  Maybe I was too naive to notice;  Maybe I wasn’t looking.  Or maybe we see only what we want to see.

Inspiration can be found in the unlikeliest of places.  So keep your eyes open.  You may end up wanting to hug a litterbug.