February 1, 2016

The Garbage Man: A Modern Tale of Mindfulness.

blur of smile

A year ago, I felt as if I had little to smile about.

Actually, I was depressed, void of hope and lacking the energy to slow my free-fall into a state of despair. I hated my job, my boss, my body, my life and my existence. My marriage was quickly eroding, as was my will to live.

As I think back on that desperately lonely period of my life, I’ve come to realize that the only source of peace, relief and inspiration I had was a quiet, humble man named Micha, who was part of our neighborhood garbage truck crew. I saw him regularly and, although I only spoke to him once, I remember there was never a time he wasn’t smiling. I don’t mean a normal smile either. Oh no, this was one of those wide, genuine smiles that can only come from true joy—the kind of smile that lifts the spirits and vibrations of the those lucky enough to experience it.

No matter how dark my mood, when Micha stopped by to pick up my garbage, the light from his smile would wash away the darkness, at least for a few moments until the sound of the garbage truck disappeared in the distance. We didn’t speak. He seemed content to smile and knew nothing more needed to be said. And I was so absorbed in the glow of his smile that I didn’t want to ruin those precious moments with words.

One day, however, I decided to break the silence.

I heard Micha’s truck approaching and walked out to say hello, but also to find out how he was able to maintain that constant smile and the blissful state of being that caused it.

“Hello, my name is Natasha.”

“Ah, Natasha, what a beautiful name. I am called Micha.”

“Micha, every time I see your face it has a huge smile plastered on it. If you don’t mind me asking, how do you stay so positive?”

“I used to complain about my life. I used to whine about the things I thought were unfair and blame others for my own misery. I used to see the worst in people instead of the best. I lived like a victim, always reacting negatively to outside conditions ad circumstances.

Then a very wise woman—my mother—reminded me that my negative thoughts and the blaming and complaining that came from those thoughts, were litter for my mind. They were garbage and made everything in my life stink. She told me to clean up the garbage in my mind and assured me that if I did, my life would no longer stink. And she was right.

So, I decided to become a garbage man so that I could physically clean up trash everyday as a mental reminder to keep my mind free from negative thinking. I also decided from that day forward I would replace complaints with smiles and blame with forgiveness and love. You know Natasha, anyone can start cleaning up their garbage at any time they choose.”

I cried as Micha pulled away. I never saw him again.

The garbage truck crew said he was assigned to a new route—and maybe that’s true—but I know the universe had really just assigned Micha to help someone else recapture the joy of living by reminding them to clean up their internal garbage.

I used to get angry and complain when I saw litter on the ground, especially if I saw someone in the act of littering. But now, thanks to Micah, I just pick up the litter and smile as I thank the Universe for the opportunity to clean up my space.

You see, whether you’re disposing of the negative garbage in your mind or the physical garbage on the ground, getting rid of garbage is always good.


Author: Robin Salter

Editor: Nicole Cameron

Image: Porsche Brosseau/Flickr


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