Play at the Park?

Old Glory flies above a house across the street.

I posted earlier this week in Just Taking a Walk that my family took a walk Sunday afternoon, taking pictures and simply enjoying the weather. While we were on that walk, we decided to stop at a local park not far from our home to let our son play a while. That part of the evening didn’t go exactly as planned — a number of my photos in that post were taken at the park, but several were not shared at that time as I decided they didn’t fit and I instead saved them for this post.

As you may see momentarily, the park was a bit of a disaster area. Honestly, I didn’t even notice it at first because I was busy taking photos of the trees, birds, and clouds, and was quite taken by those things. It was only after taking a picture of my wife, something close to the ground, that it occurred to me that the entire park was littered with bits of trash.

Rubbish abounds at the park...

Needless to say, it was a little dissapointing to see that the park had degenerated to such a condition. This was one of the first truly nice days of the year, so I guess a great multitude of kids and families had been out that day, leaving the rubbish bins quite full.

Out of control rubbish...

Clearly our son was dissapointed as well. After playing for a few minutes, he seemed to also realize the state of things…

Dalton performs a survey of the park

I’m not entirely sure why, but he decided that it was his job to help clean the park…

Every little bit helps, right?

Large pile accumulated in the corner of the park.

Dalton attacks the pile.

His second attempt on the pile...

Mommy takes our picture before leaving the park.

In any event, he goes on like this for ten or so minutes before we decide that it is time for us to be going home. We had gone out for a walk, and the park was merely a way-point along the walk. Getting late as it was, his bedtime was near anyway…  Oh, and in case it isn’t obvious, he needed to shower when we got home.

Before ending this, let me point out that my posting this morning isn’t really intended to be read as a gripe about the people who trashed out the park. Quite frankly, I don’t really know how it got so bad — maybe one of the trash cans tipped over and blew all over the place. It isn’t really possible for me to know, and as such, I choose to not assume anything other than that it was a mess that needed some attention.

The first thing this post is really meant for is to praise my son. His decision to use play time to clean part of the park was totally unexpected, and I’m amazed at how much he actually cares about things. He has said that he wants to go back and work on it some more, and we may do that if he repeats that interest this weekend, but we’ll take our own trash bags this time (rather than forcing stuff into overfilled public rubbish bins).

The second thing I want to make sure everyone sees is how, in general, things do not stay nice forever. Without maintenance, this park (like many things) would deteriorate into a dump heap within the span of a single Summer. Similarly, our bodies fall apart if they aren’t kept up, our cars stop working if we don’t keep good oil in them, and our lives become unbearable if we don’t try to keep our mental states in check. Sure, this park was a real mess, but the message I get from it is if we do not care about cleaning up outside, what should we expect to happen inside?

I challenge you today to consider whether your house is in order. No, I’m not referring to your physical house, but your spiritual / mental house. Do you let your mind wander out of control, making a mess, or do you try to restrain it and maintain some sort of order? Maybe as we clean our physical homes, we can find ways to eliminate the mental clutter in our minds and make ourselves more whole as a result.

Thank you for reading, and be well, friends.



  1. I wish some more adults were as eco-conscious and well-raised as your son.

  2. This is incredibly inspiring. You should be very proud of your son, and the values you have instilled in him. As a mother of a little boy myself, I aspire for my son to grow up to have a caring attitude towards others and the environment (and his environment). Again it’s fate at work reading this post – every day as I walk my son to school I remember that I meant to bring a bag to pick up the rubbish along the way. You have inspired me to get that rubbish bag now and put it near the front door! 🙂

  3. It’s interesting how spiritually intelligent young people really do care about beauty and the quality of the environment, and don’t wait to be asked to help make the world a better place. Partly this must be instinctual, but partly this virtuous behaviour must be due to the values he picks up from the most important people in his life.

    1. Thank you for saying so, friend. Wherever he gets his virtues, I’m happy to be associated with it, even if I feel like we don’t really do anything “special.”

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