Sunday, September 17, 2017

Head and Shoulders

Back in April we were contacted by TerraCycle about a special project to collect beach plastic that would be used in the making of limited edition bottles for the worlds  #1 shampoo brand Head & Shoulders. Proctor and Gamble is championing this experimental use of beach plastic in an effort to find a way to use some of the estimated 5.25 tons (and counting) pieces of plastic cycling around the gyres and winding up on beaches. 

With a swirl of family obligations and an eclipse trip to Oregon, this summer we have been on the go and slow to fill the super-sack shipping bags TerraCycle provided. Almost full, we hoped to top them off on Coastal Clean Up Day. Marilyn Englander who has been the beach captain supervising the Coastal Commission's cleanup day at Kehoe for eleven years offered to separate the plastics from the trash so that we could finally get our bags on their way TerraCycle. 

Typically this late-summer time of year plastic can be scarce, plus on Coastal Clean Up Day the competition can be fierce. Not only is there the vying for who can get the most there is always the quest for the most unusual. Along with the typical finds, every year there is always something strange and something outrageous.

Among the people who come out for Coastal Clean Up Day there is heartfelt camaraderie. To be with kindred spirits gathered together in devotion to cleaning up the planet is an uncanny pleasure and especially when enjoying a beautiful day with old and news friends. This premier volunteer event is a time to step away from our screens and the multiple distractions of our daily lives and into the restorative beauty of the nature.

Barbara Bonander, Kay Ryan                                                      Marilyn Englander

Some two and a half millennia ago The Buddha coined the term "monkey mind" to describe the capricious, easily distracted mental state of “Kapicitta.” He defined it best when he said; "Just as a monkey swinging through the trees grabs one branch and lets it go only to seize another, so too, that which is called thought, mind or consciousness arises and disappears continually both day and night."  Accompanied by the chattering monkey of our internal monologue, with all of that noise, it is almost impossible to be present and focused on the moment. Instead we are carried away. We give our attention to too many things at once. We rush from one thing to another, focusing on what we are yet to do instead of what we are currently doing. There are dozens of trees with enticing fruit for our monkey to chase. 

For a calming look at dispelling the monkey, watch this Danish woodworker actually make a toy monkey. 

This is the exact opposite of "monkey mind" in case you were wondering.

On Coastal Clean Up Day there is only one thing in mind — picking up trash. To pick out (and up) the tinniest flecks that look like food to birds and the heavy snarls of entangled rope that trap marine mammals, collecting trash requires a particular kind of selective attention. Being on the case, eyes scanning out to the horizon and beyond.

The Mercury News reported:
"With about 80 percent of the nearly 1,000 cleanup sites reporting data by 5 p.m. Saturday, Eben Schwartz, marine debris program manager at the Coastal Commission, said 54,101 volunteers had collected 533,671 pounds of trash, including more than 23,000 pounds of recyclables. Typically, about 75 percent of the take is plastic, Schwartz said, and pulling it out before it has a chance to degrade prevents it from adding to the 51 trillion plastic bits the United Nations says are filling the oceans and being eaten by marine life."

Although our stalwart team of eleven at Kehoe Beach might be by comparison a small group, we were mighty and dare we say, head and shoulders above the rest. We brought in 90 pounds off the beach: 28 pounds of trash and 62 pounds of recyclables that included 7 Handi-snack cheese spreaders, 2 Starbuck's coffee cup plugs, 1 Superball, 1 tiny toy horse, 41 shotgun wads, 5 shotgun caps, 2 shotgun shells that filled our Terracycle super-sack to the top. 

Speaking of rare finds:  Kay and Barbara gave Judith this marvelous monkey.
Disclaimer: it was found on the beach, just not this year.

The mediation of picking up trash has its corollary in actual meditation, of which we are big fans (is being a fan of something very Buddhist? Probably not.) Actual meditation is more like don't just do something, sit there. The previous sentence is a good QED of monkey mind in action.