Last summer I visited my friend David in the semi-desert of Almería in Southern Spain. We made a nice film about Life in the desert and then David gave me a little gift. Here it is:
One morning we drove to the nearest fresh water spring with a boot full of empty bottles. As we filled them with water, I noticed how dirty the area around the spring was. People come to get free water and in turn leave broken plastic containers, coke cans and half-smoked cigarettes – an utterly depressing sight! When we finished our refill mission, I watched David getting a bag from the car, and then he started collecting rubbish off the ground. For a few moments I just stood there, frozen, before I joined him. Five minutes later we were driving back to his house, with several gallons of fresh water and a bag full of ugly garbage. 'Left it more beautiful than we found it,' David summarized contentedly.
The concept is called 'beautifying spaces', as my sister explained to me recently. It's about the magic that happens when you give love to random places. Nature does it all the time.
“But why should you clean up a public space?”
Well, I am part of the public, aren't I?
“Yes, but it wasn't you who left the rubbish there.”
True. But my choice is this: When I see rubbish lying around, I can either ignore it and go away complaining, feeling at war with the world and its people, or I pick it up and go away smiling, knowing I've left a place more beautiful. Sometimes I do the former, but the latter always feels better.
It's not only about public places. Making anything more beautiful will generate a corresponding feeling inside of you. Beautifying spaces. It could be your home. A room, a kitchen, a garden. Food can be made more beautiful, and friendship too.
And blogs and websites, so here's my freshly painted homepage. You're already on it. Have a look around, maybe choose a nice mixtape to listen to and then beautify something yourself. It's great fun and might even get you extra karma points.