Finally, a roadside sign that keeps 100.

Sometimes rush hour traffic can be a good thing. It gives me time to think. Not that I ever stop thinking. But, uninterrupted thought is different. I had a chance to just pretty much park my ass for a while and look around (driving between 5 and 10 mph is parking…hell 30 mph is parking for me).

So I am looking around and there is trash everywhere. Any other day I wouldn’t notice it because I almost always find a loop hole in the “rush hour” conundrum. Not today. Today I got to sit and watch billowing black clouds exhaust themselves from a truck in front of me. Trying to avoid that vision I decided to check out my natural surroundings.

It’s bad enough I live in a desert which doesn’t have much to look at in the first place. Worse, I live in a zone where there is clash of mish mashed vegetation that doesn’t make any sense. This is what happens when we import what doesn’t belong here. My eyes roamed from broken wire fences to a pile of debris. Then I saw more trash. This is about the time I realized I saw more trash than usual. Or maybe I was seeing it for the first time.

So, out of plain curiosity I started to really get into looking at how much crap was really out there. That’s when I noticed the one legged chair with stuffing ripped out of it, the sun rotted couch, the busted bike with one tire, a pile of…I don’t know…something that didn’t belong there, and all of it was garnished with worn paper, torn plastic bags, more paper, and more plastic. Humph, nature where I live is a real shit hole. It used to be kinda relaxing to look at…for a desert.

Don’t think I am about to start on some “green” speech about how we shouldn’t litter. I am not out to actively hurt the planet, but I am not actively trying to save it either. I have always justified my littering moments as stimulating the economy. I create jobs. Where there is trash there is a need for someone to clean it.

All that is missing is the couch.

Who knows why my brain made the connection but it got me thinking about my second serious relationship. When we started out it was a beautiful thing to look at. It didn’t matter what time of day, it was worth slowing down for and just relaxing into. My girl was as beautiful as the relationship and they were something I was passionate about.

It didn’t take long for my ego to take over and start randomly littering. There was always a reason for throwing this out and that out. It was a frequent ritual, trashing our relationship. I am not professing all of the arguments were my fault. It doesn’t really matter who started them or why. It is really about how they were handled, which was badly, without conscious consideration for what it was doing to our emotional environment. I didn’t notice. She did (women always do…).

My girl would constantly nag me not to be so callous and inconsiderate. She would cry for me to not be so hurtful and thoughtless, which for some reason, just made me angrier and push harder. We were so caught up in our downward spiral of communication that I was completely unaware at how ugly our relationship had become. Our environment was so littered with negativity, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, lack of communication, and a crap load of other things that I finally had no choice but to see it.

I had no choice because she left. At some point she realized I just wasn’t going to stop throwing fast food wrappers out the window and empty cups under the car. I wasn’t going to change because someone was asking me to. I am a man and I alone make that call. When we finally met up to talk about it we mutually agreed that we were not in the same place. She is a “tree hugger” and I am, well…not. So we were in grid lock, limping along.

I am in my third serious relationship now and things are looking better. I didn’t really clean up my last mess, but I am trying not to create a new one. I still have my careless moments, but at least I listen when my girl asks if maybe next time I could please use the trash can, put the crap where it belongs. It’s a much more communicative relationship, gentler, more environmentally friendly. It’s a shame that it takes events beyond our control to slow us down, to force us to see the world around us and what we are recklessly doing to it.

I realize that we should be as environmentally friendly to our relationships as we are to our planet…lesson learned.