For my Seva project, I decided to pick up trash at two locations that have provided a lot of beauty and serenity to me over the years—Horsetooth Reservoir and the Spring Creek Trail. Because of the higher volume of people passing through these areas, there is a higher volume of trash left behind. My goal in cleaning up these areas was to put more action behind my appreciation for nature and possibly spark some inspiration in those around me to do the same.
The first stop was Horsetooth Reservoir. I brought along a friend who doesn’t spend a lot of time outdoors, but enjoys adventure. He made it really fun, and it was neat to see the excitement, passion, and perspective brought out in an otherwise ‘indoors’ person through something like trash clean-up. One guy stopped to tell us how great it was to see people doing what we were doing. It gave us encouragement to think of how our actions were potentially affecting the consciousness and future actions of those around us.
The second stop was a busy portion of the Spring Creek Trail. A lot of people were staring at us as we set off with our trash bags, and I had to let go of the fear of judgement. When I reminded myself that I was there for the Earth and not for my image, I was able to resume more confidently. There was some trash in difficult-to-retrieve areas, but we found creative ways to get it, which made the tasks more fun and gave us some good exercise. Seeing the difference in how the area looked afterwards, and how much better the water was flowing, was gratifying in a very beautiful way.
My friend and I decided that we’re going to pick up trash at a new location once a week! We talked about ways we could do it more efficiently and how we could get more people involved. I have told a few other people about our plans since then, many who have expressed interest in helping. It has been really inspiring to see the chain reaction caused by our one day of trash clean-up. I often stress about the environmental issues facing our planet. However, I’ve come to accept the overall lack of control that I have over others, and started focusing on the things that I can control within my own little micro-universe. Cleaning up trash and positively motivating the people around me is one way to do that. This is one mentality shift that has brought me a lot of serenity.
Overall, we found a lot less trash on this outing than I was anticipating— which is a good thing! However, because of that, I started to tell myself that it “wasn’t enough” to qualify as a Seva project. All of the good we brought through this project started to become overshadowed by my ego trying to quantify the results. Through this project, and the entire TTC program, I have learned a lot about this aspect of my ego. I frequently don’t complete projects because I can’t make them “perfect” (meaning the definition of perfect that my ego has created). The pressure and frustration builds, and I eventually give up because I can’t meet my own impossible demands.
This journey has taught me that perfection doesn’t always look how I think it should. Sometimes, the real success is not so much in the results, but in how connected we have been throughout the process. In the same way the Yoga teaches us to stay connected to every breath and movement on the way to our poses, I have learned to stay connected to the journey on the way to the destination. Maybe I didn’t complete this training “perfectly,” but when I look back on all the things I’ve learned, experiences I’ve had, and connections I’ve made through Holistic Yoga School, I see nothing but perfection.