I was driving home from work on one of our first warm days of spring, enjoying the slight breeze and sunshine when I saw the driver in the car ahead of me roll down his window and toss a cigarette butt onto the street. My happy mood suddenly dissolved and I became incensed. I felt as if someone had dumped garbage onto my living room floor. How dare he and why did I feel this way, anyhow?

Feng Shui is all about finding beauty, balance and harmony in the spaces where we work, rest and play. Usually we’re referring to our personal spaces: homes and landscapes, offices and workspaces. Driving home that day I realized that my neighborhood, and the roads in it that I take to go to work, the grocery store, the library, the health club — are part of my larger home — which I  want to be as beautiful, balanced and harmonious as the personal spaces I inhabit. And I know that the philosophy of Feng Shui is at work in this larger home just as it is inside my house: It is alive with energy, everything in it is connected and everything is changing. The space is precious to me; I know it well. I notice if a sign has been knocked over (a snow plow hazard), if my neighbors have new patio furniture, when the buds on the trees that line the path I walk are ready to burst. No wonder I felt as if the driver ahead of me had dumped garbage onto my living room floor; he had!

Cigarette butts in their proper place

Though Feng Shui reminds us not to judge someone else’s personal style or design sense, my first thoughts were in fact very judgmental about the driver in front of me; dumping garbage from one’s car onto the street is just wrong! Putting your garbage where it belongs — in a garbage receptacle — is the only responsible choice. So, I wondered, did my fellow driver think of the street as his personal garbage can? That could be the only explanation. I began to see my reaction as being a difference in perspective. From a Feng Shui standpoint, every street connects us to one another and every street belongs to a neighborhood that is part of each neighbor’s larger home. Dumping garbage on any street anywhere is really like dumping garbage on another resident’s floor. We can extend this perspective even further than our neighborhoods and look at our cities, our states, our countries and, ultimately, our planet.  If we view the world beyond our doors as our larger home, we will act in ways that help to make it more beautiful and harmonious and comfortable to live in. If that driver had considered the street onto which he threw his cigarette butt part of his larger home, he would not have littered the space he shares with others. He would have found a considerate way to dispose of it.  The ashtray in his car, perhaps.

We have an opportunity every day to think of our entire planet as our larger home.  Early spring is an especially precious time to take notice of its beauty and harmony as the plants are waking up and coming back to life. Let’s welcome the season with open arms and carry a trash bag in our cars.


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