[Ohio River derelict boatyard, Louisville KY]
Yesterday, gorgeous, sunny, and warm, my two and a-half-year-old grand-daughter and I strolled the neighborhood, stopping at a small park, once a vacant lot, the next street over. (Full disclosure: I was one of the many neighbors who maintained that open space until the city assumed responsibility for its landscaping and maintenance.) She and I quickly dis-covered that over the winter, countless dog owners had let their pets loose to do their business in the snow; melting snow revealed layers and layers and piles and piles of dog shit. An unbelievable quantity. Trust me.
After my initial outrage, after wondering if I could enlist the abutting neighbors to help patrol or take pictures of the miscreants (owners not dogs), after considering calling the head of Parks and Open Space and loudly demand he lock the park entrance—(until what, Patricia? Those horrible dog owners agree to clean up their dogs’ mess? C’mon!); in other words after lots of indignant, First Word Problem stewing, I realized I had a spiritual challenge—literally—in my own back yard.
Here’s how far I’ve gotten (and it’s not very far): Although we are neighbors, I don’t live in the same neighborhood as those dog owners. We see ourselves and how we interact with this neighborhood in profoundly different ways. And although all of us live now, right now, those dog owners and I have a major difference about time. About the relationship between the here and now (and the expedient) and, yes, what comes next. Like spring. When the snow will melt. And how present action has consequences! Always. And, finally, what does it mean that I live in a neighborhood with people who don’t believe their actions have consequences? Whose centre is themselves?
Like I said: not very far.
*”Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” is a line from “The Second Coming” by Yeats