A Lesson in Assertiveness

A journey is made up of stories. The following story is about a learning experience I had involving courage, kindness, and dead batteries.

I have just returned from my regular morning walk, and I recommend that everyone go on a morning walk or something similar that allows the sounds of nature and the peace of the wind to flow through you. Starting out in my backyard, I wandered to the south side near the marsh and back around to the recently-mown east side. I was grateful to see a robin and then a rabbit scurry off under a tree. Signs of life are good. Wandering back to the north end by the road, I snapped a few pictures of a particularly large oak tree by the road that I’ve named Jim. (I don’t know why I chose Jim – just seemed right.)

Jim the Oak TreeRenaissance Soul Walks

Turning right onto the road, I began heading east. By now the sun stood rather high in the sky, so it didn’t affect my vision. I find that walks help me think an idea through. I recommend that you make the time to go on at least one walk in the next week. No doubt you have taken a quiet walk before, but you may have had trouble establishing it as a regular habit. Too many people fail to give themselves quiet time these days, so I encourage you to set aside some time or even, gasp, set a reminder on your calendar to do this. You may be surprised how refreshing it can be. As for me, I took this opportunity to ponder the possible futures of this website. With the wind blowing in my hair, I often find clarity while I’m surrounded by the natural world.

The Scum of the Earth

Unfortunately, there are some irreverent people who abuse the roads near my house, and I invariably find litter on (or embedded into) the gravel. During the walk, I picked up a weather-worn beer can, intent on finding a trash can for it. Crossing the street, I continued onto another eastbound street – a road I had walked and biked on many times before. I passed the stream that looked so picturesque in its frozen glory just three months ago, and saw another piece of trash embedded into the gravel, this time the bottle cap to one of those caffeine-saturated chilled coffee drinks. I wondered how it got there, and part of me wished that the trees could talk.

A Man on the Roof

I reached the end of the road, and I hadn’t seen a trash can. To my right was a large house on a large piece of lush forest land: the epitome of the American dream. I began to walk up the very long asphalt driveway and suddenly noticed that someone was on the roof. He was so far away that yelling at him would have been a lost cause. I knocked on the door instead. Because the door was mostly glass, I could see that no one was in the entryway room. I retraced my steps and looked for the man on the roof again. This time I noticed he was working on a bird feeder up there, and it appeared he was standing on a flat platform I couldn’t see. I knew I ought to call him, but part of me was holding the call back. I approached the door again and knocked once more. No answer, no movement. I retraced my steps once more to see him working, so I began to walk away, not wanting to disturb him.

And then I heard a call from behind me. The old man must have either seen or heard me. The conversation went rather like this:

“What?”, I say.
“Aye?”, he says.
“What did you say?”, I ask.
“Are you looking for someone?”, he asks.
“No, I’m looking for a trash can.”
“What?”, he asks, finding it difficult to hear me as I suspected.
I explain, “I found some garbage on the side of the road.”
“Oh. Just leave it by the pile of brush”, he says, slightly surprised.

I looked down and saw a small pile of sticks and put the trash on it. We exchanged thanks, and I walked down his long driveway, feeling good. I realized I shouldn’t have been so reluctant to interrupt the man on the roof, but the experience serves to highlight an area I need to grow in: asserting myself in awkward situations.

Always Bring Spare Batteries

As I passed by the stream again, I felt the urge to capture it on camera. Finding a rock to stand on, I took my small Powershot camera out of my pocket and carefully took a few photos when suddenly the mosquitos began their assault. Then just as I was about to take another photo, the batteries died. In retrospect, I really should have changed the batteries before I left. These batteries had been in my camera for a week, and even though they were rechargeable and rated at about 2500 mAh, going a week before changing the batteries was asking for trouble. I was able to snap a couple more by feverishly swapping the positions of the batteries in the camera as I moved my legs up and down haphazardly to keep from getting bitten by mosquitos, but in the end, it was rather ridiculous.

So, the moral of the story is: don’t be afraid of asserting yourself, always always always bring spare batteries, and name your trees. It’s fun.

Photos from this trip are in Byteful Photos. All photos can be used as widescreen desktop wallpapers because they are high resolution (1920×1440).