the beauty of garbage?

This summer I spent a lot of early mornings walking Town Neck Beach in Sandwich, Mass picking up garbage. What started July 5th as a way to make the weekend better for everyone turned into something else.

Late in August, I wanted to sleep in, but I realized that I had really habituated or even ritualized my beach clean-up. I had become obsessive. I panicked that if I didn’t pick up garbage that day some kid could cut their foot and ruin their family’s much-needed vacation, or people would think Town Neck is a gross beach and not want to return.

My hypothetical thoughts raced. This wasn’t actually my job. I decided I had to take the day off, I was getting a little weird about it all.

Looking back at my summer now, I’m really proud of what I did. I felt purposeful in a time of American life that feels so surreal. I was thanked by many other sunrise beach walkers. I met some really interesting people. And as a photographer, the light was just so gorgeous every single day sun or fog or in-between. I found a lot of shovels and toys, but of course people are naturally leery about picking up things like that now.

These photos may make some people disappointed in humanity, but rest assured all of these items were picked up and saved from polluting the ocean during the next high tide. Now, on to the streets of Burlington, Vermont.

What the world needs now…

  • curiosity: marked by desire to investigate and learn
  • listening: to hear something with thoughtful attention, give consideration
  • empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another
  • compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress
  • courage: mental or moral strength to persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
  • cooperation: to act or work with another or others, act together
  • sisterhood: the solidarity of women based on shared conditions, experiences, or concerns
  • leadership: a capacity to lead

When curious, compassionate, and courageous women of all different races, colors, creeds, religious, and national origins serve in leadership roles from the corner office to the front porch—every aspect of American life appears to benefit.

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.

—Maya Angelou

NOTE: Tonight on your local PBS station you can watch Timothy Greenfield-Sanders documentary—Maya Angelou: The Pieces I Am. https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/