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August 12, 2013
Life on Planet Kathy
Treasures or Trash
by Kathryn H. Kidd

My husband Fluffy’s daily walking route is a circuitous one. He starts at our front door, whistles at me on his way past my temporary office (located in our former dining room until I learn to climb stairs again), and then goes behind our house. He cuts through our back yard onto the street entering the next subdivision, then walks to the back of that subdivision.

He then takes a trail that winds through the woods, eventually leading to another subdivision. Finally, he exits that subdivision onto a parkway that leads back to our house. He doesn’t come through the back yard, but follows the trail to where it enters our subdivision, and then he walks down the street and back into the house to my waiting arms.

The parkway is a busy one, and as you can imagine there are many people who throw trash out the window as they ride down the parkway. In this world, there are people who throw their trash all over the place, there are people who are disgusted with the trash, and there are people who pick the trash up.

One day last week, Fluffy decided he was tired of walking on that trail next to the parkway and being disgusted by all the trash. He and I have been on a quest to do more good deeds, and he decided that his first good deed for the day (after taking care of me, which is a huge good deed in my book) was going to be to pick up some of the garbage. He took a huge trash bag and one of the grabbers I use to pick up things I cannot reach, and off he went.

Fluffy fully expected not to use his grabber and the trash bag until he got through the subdivisions and back onto the trail that runs along the parkway. That was where he had seen the most trash on his previous walks. But that wasn’t the way things worked out. Once he was armed with his grabber and trash bag and was thinking about trash, he started seeing trash everywhere. He hadn’t gone more than a third of the way along his route until his trash bag was full.

Fortunately, he ran into an empty garbage can that had not yet been retrieved by its owner since garbage pickup the day before, and he was able to empty his bag so he could start again. As he expected, the bag was once again bursting at the seams when arrived home.

He said, “I had never seen that garbage on the rest of the trail until I had the grabber and the trash bag in hand. Then there was garbage everywhere. People always see the things they’re looking for. I guess if you’re in a trashy state of mind, you’re going to find trash!”

That was certainly a true statement! It amazes me how many people are living in the same world I’m living in, but who can’t stop complaining about everything they see. Every political email I get proclaims doom and gloom, until I finally stopped reading them and just send them directly into my spam folder.

Similarly, we have all known people who have stopped coming to church (or school, or social occasions, or whatever) because they were offended by something that someone said, or did, or didn’t say. It has been my experience that if you come into any situation looking to be offended, you are sure to find something to be offended about. I am sure I could come home from church every week with a new offense to nurse if that were my goal.

There are so many grouchy people around us — servers at restaurants, department store checkers, and even people who sit next to us in church meetings — that Fluffy and I make a game out of it. We try to see how quickly we can make the grouch smile or even laugh. It’s such an easy thing to do. Even people who want to be miserable seem to forget their resolve and smile or even laugh if someone treats them as a human being and acknowledges them as more than just a server, a checker, or a congregant.

Similarly, it is wonderful to be around people who can see the good in just about any situation. There is a story told about Spencer W. Kimball (a former president of the Mormon Church) when he and a colleague were walking down the street and passed a group of young girls going in the opposite direction. The friend said “Isn’t it terrible that those girls were wearing such short skirts.” President Kimball’s response was, “I didn’t even notice because I was too busy looking at their beautiful smiles.”

We can’t always control the circumstances of our life. Sometimes parts of God’s path for us are difficult to travel. But although we can’t control the journey, we can control how we will react to it. I need to remind myself to keep my eyes up looking for treasure, and not down looking for trash.

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