The Sweeper

On the street where I live, the streets are always clean.   Every morning an old  man, who lives in a little unimposing house in a corner, gets up and sweeps the streets.  I call him “The Sweeper.” He’s not paid to sweep the streets.  He is an inhabitant of the street, yet every morning he sweeps the street for everyone.  He gently moves down rows and rows of houses with broom in hand sweeping away trash, leaves and whatever else is left on the street.   He asks not for recognition, he asks not for notice, he asks not for money.  He sweeps the streets because he wants to.  He sweeps the streets because he has a good heart.

It’s not easy to find a man like him in this modern day where no one wants to do anything for free.  Everything now must be bought, be exchanged, be in response to another good action.  It reminds me of what Thomas Hobbes wrote in the Leviathan about man being innately selfish.  The Sweeper, however, sweeps because he wants to. He is not selfish.

I have not talked to him, but early mornings around 6am when I am rushing out to run, I’d see him already sweeping.  From the looks of his age, he must be many years past retirement.  Perhaps a decade or more.  I assume he started sweeping to keep himself busy, as a form of exercise, but I could be mistaken.  One day, I shall have to park the car and have a chat with him.

I wonder what pushed him to start sweeping. I wonder what his life is like. I wonder what he thinks. I wonder what he was before we all know him as “The Sweeper.”  I wonder if he has any family.  From what I see, his only companions seem to be the dogs that wander around his house and watch out for him while he sweeps.  Some days, I’d see him sitting on the street in front of his house surrounded by the dogs.  They love him.  Dogs know who have a good heart.

I wonder if there ever was a day he wanted to give up and just not get out of bed.   Rain or shine, he
is always there.  He is like a reminder of times past.  A time when Bangkok was less cosmopolitan, less busy, less hectic, and more loving.
I am thankful that on this earth there are men like him.  He reminds us that sometimes life isn’t about always doing things in expectation of returns or compensation.  Life can be about giving.  It’s about doing what gives us pleasure.  He need not be boastful, yet his goodness shines out far and wide.

Thank you Sweeper for reminding us all.  I wish you a pleasant, healthy and good life.

Do, Do Good

My internet is finally back in working order today. I think all this weird weather has been causing havoc to everyone and even disrupting cables. Thailand at the moment is in a strange state indeed. In the north we have earthquakes, in the south we have flooding, high waves of 2-3 meters are causing people to leave the islands, and in the northeast we have drought. Bangkok itself is experiencing abnormally cold weather. People are suffering.

Those in the south of Thailand have had to evacuate their homes due to flooding. Beautiful beaches where once we would dream of laying on the white sandy beaches looking out towards the sea has become a place to stay away from. Entire beaches which were once 25 meters long are now underwater and roads are being destroyed. Now is not a good time to go to the beach.

Who knows what the world will be like in the future? Some say it’ll snow in Bangkok. It’s hard to believe but then we did have hailstorms that are the size of golf balls in the northern part of Thailand earlier this month. Freaky indeed. Whatever happens, my take is this: Who knows what will happen tomorrow. Do what you want to do now so that you won’t regret it later on in life. Don’t let things past by and when it’s too late wish you had done differently. Be a person you’d be proud of. Know how to give and take and understand that there are others too who are suffering, probably even more so than you. If you are reading this, then your life probably isn’t all that bad.