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Cleaning Up the World, A Pretty Easy Task

Joe Dunne

Joe Dunne

Many years ago, during a personal growth seminar that I really needed at the time, the moderator told a story. I have repeated it many times over my lifetime, and am always surprised by the reaction of the faces in the crowd, no matter how large or small the group.   

       The story begins with a tired mother, dragging herself through the front door of her home after an exhausting day at the factory, lunch box in hand.  (For some reason, I’ve always visualized a dirty, dusty steel worker working through another day of a crushingly repetitive life.)

       She manually clicks the dial on the television, which crackles on, showing light. Off to the kitchen for a couple of beers, she drops to the couch with an exhausted sigh of relief. “Another day, another dollar,” she whispers to no one in particular.

       In a ball of excitement, her young daughter bursts into the room.  “Mommy, Mommy, let’s play!”  “Not now,” her mom answered. “Mommy is tired. It’s been a long day.” “Yes! But can we play?”  “I really want to but not now!” the mother snaps.  Over and over the little girl persistently pleas, “But Mommy, I have nothing else to do. I want to play with you.”

       Now highly irritated, the little girl’s mother rose up, grabbed her by
the hand, and led her to the kitchen. Scanning the room, not really knowing what to do, she noticed a copy of Life magazine with a big picture of the world on the back cover. Ripping the page from the its place, she then rips it into a thousand pieces, and scatters it through the room in a burst like moment.

       “When you put that back together then maybe we can play!” she shouted. Content that she had defused the interruption, she headed for the couch to continue with the night, pleased she had bought herself much time.

       A short while later, the mother was startled when the little girl entered the room waving a page in hand. Her mother sat up straight. Here stood the little girl, smiling, and proud at her accomplishment, showing off the world in its entirety perfectly taped into perfect order. 

“How—what—how did you do that?!” asked her mom.

       “Easy,” replied the little girl. “On the other side of the page was a picture of a little girl. I just simply put the little girl back together and the world took care of itself.”

       This story really taught me how important it is to keep myself in the picture of my own life. If I focus on fixing me (rather than everyone else), then the world seems to work much better.

In peace, love and laughter,

Joe Dunne


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