Friday, January 28, 2011

Portable Potty: A Creative Use

As I type this morning, it's snowing again.  We've had a very snowy week here, which means school delays and cancellations, wild children, and roller-coaster emotions.

Dave and I have often said that the snow seems to bring out the best and the worst in our neighbors, and in us too!  Living on a very busy, 3-lane street in a small city, we are a diverse bunch.  We span generations, cultures, colors, and economics.  When it snows, the neighbors that we haven't seen for weeks emerge from warm homes to shovel porches and sidewalks.  Sometimes, it seems that we all even race to help each other.  Dave loves to get out in the snowy mess, as it gives him a guaranteed bonding experience with others on our block.  Conversely, when it snows, tensions can run high because there is nowhere to put the snow.  Sidewalks need to be cleared, and cars need to be dug out, and this process always requires creativity in discovering new ways to deal with our snow problem.  So the snow goes into large piles on the street or alleyways or onto porches.  Desperation leads us to shovel snow into the street. 

Once I manage to dig myself out and anticipate opportunities to leave the house, there is the lingering question about whether "my" parking space -- the parking space that took me an hour to shape, and required all that arm strength and quick thinking, and the source of my very sore back -- will still be available when I arrive home.  This fear leads to some irrational thoughts about neighbors or strangers who may take my space.  After all, they have no idea how hard it was to dig myself out, or even worse, they do have a clue, but they don't care (see...irrational!).  This thinking leaves me feeling hesitant to go anywhere.

I could put a chair in my parking space to ensure that it will still be there when I get back.  I always thought that was an unfriendly practice until I broke down and did it myself last winter.  The 3 major snows and 2 very young children made me do it.  A side note: it's not only chairs that people use to reserve their spaces.  I've seen orange cones, buckets, and trash cans too.  Today I stepped outside and noticed that my neighbor is currently using a hospital-type portable toilet to reserve his space!

As I'm making plans for the day, I realize that this fear, the fear of losing my space, is rising up.  It is so strong that it is starting to impact decisions concerning how I will spend my time today.  Don't we do this a lot?  We try to hold on to things, even things that aren't really ours.  We're afraid of loss.  But in the holding on, in the grabbing and guarding, we sometimes lose the better thing, the more significant experience.  And our holding on can impact others too.  Maybe someone else needs my parking space -- or my money, my time, my job, my possessions -- more than I do.  And maybe I would experience more joy in sharing, in letting go of the strong grip, in the release of what I think is mine.

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