Om moment tonight: I was sitting in the dark in my front garden on this warm spring evening when one of the Box People trucks cruised past. I had 4 big boxes in the house, so I zipped inside, snagged ’em, and ran to the corner where the truck had pulled over. A nice man who spoke little English took my boxes, broke them down, and gave me a big smile, which I returned.  The universal language.

These people work hard every night collecting cardboard for cash.  Many in this big city who know of them, take cardboard out  late at night to the corner, where one of the trucks will see the pile. This is not litter.  This is income for food and rent and clothing. It is always gone by sunrise.

They are but one lane on the highway of a two hundred year old tradition in this country. Newcomers working hard to make a new life, and finding creative ways to get by, making work of things most of us never consider.

That my paternal grandparents sailed across the on the Martha Washington at the beginning of the 20th Century and made their way to Colorado still astounds me. Stephen Fry talks about a beguiling theory that America is composed of people who share a belief that “good enough” is not enough. As the first post-Enlightenment community of governance and ideals, we are a people whose ancestors (with two important exceptions) stayed behind because they refused the risk. For more on this discussion, here is a conversation between Mr. Fry and Craig Ferguson:

The Box People are my people.  Our people. Help them out.  Last night, I needed a reminder of how damn lucky I am, and how humble work is not beneath me.


2 thoughts on “Gratitudine

  1. Love this! First, it reminds me of Chicago, where many finds are discovered discarded in alleys. In fact, dear friends have found many of their antiques there. Just this weekend, I nearly adopted a neighbor’s discarded sideboard, but realized that it was too big for the desired space. When I took out the garbage, less than an hour later, it was gone.

    As for “good enough” – amen! One good friend, who settles for nothing less than perfection, sometimes can’t grasp why the kitty scratches don’t bother me on my leather couch, or don’t mind a slightly-too-small-for-the-room rug in my dining room. Thing is – I don’t mind the imperfections. On a deeper level, it’s symbolic of accepting life, warts and all. At the same time, I simply don’t want to spend a lot of energy in pursuit of perfection. It takes away from appreciating the right now.

  2. Right on, sister. The fall from privilege to not has been hard on my ass. Until a few years ago, I didn’t really know what “good enough” was all about. On the other hand, I have peace of mind. That is worth the kitty shredding and the small rug.

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