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I imagine the view out many northeastern U.S. windows to be much like mine this morning. The white blanket promised by days of ominous radar postings has indeed appeared.

School is cancelled, and perhaps more than usual are at home this Friday morning, given time to do something else. But what else? Some will work from home, some take their kids up to the biggest hill in town, sleep in, start a project, or maybe just think.

I stepped outside this morning to pick up the frosty blue plastic bag containing the days news. My timing was such that the trash truck was in front of my house (not everyone got to stay home), and one of the men was pulling our trash can from its place at the back of the driveway. Two cars in.

I wanted to rush out and offer this kind worker some hot chocolate or coffee, the way my mom would always have cold lemonade ready for our suburban “trashmen” in the heat of the summer. Alas, I had no hot beverage ready, so my appreciation was left non-material, a feeling wavering in the air.

This man, with his largely thankless job, had gone out of his way, in blustery white weather, to do the part of the job that was our job. Perhaps he had been doing it all morning, dragging out barrels people had left thinking trash pick-up would be cancelled. Or maybe he didn’t want to deal with the overfull containers next week. I like to think it was pure generosity.

I’ve been spending a lot of time this week trying to recognize the many other lives that contribute to my existence and well-being. I take any one object (a comforter perhaps) and think of the many places it has been. Those that made the fabric, then elsewhere probably where it was put together. The delivery driver. The buyer at the store. The late-night loading dock check-in. The sales clerk. The manufacturer of every part required to ring me out at the register. Their families. It goes on, infinitely.

The man, rolling the green city-issued barrel down the driveway is one solid example of how easy it is to make a positive change in the world around us. To make us feel cared for and important. I do not know what my actions cause. Who notices. Who cares. But, more and more daily I see the importance of every action made, others and my own. I reach out my hand and touch the computer screen, and I feel you touching back.