I spent part of the afternoon raking leaves. To be more accurate, yesterday afternoon I created piles of leaves. Today I pushed them onto a tarp and hauled them to the street. There were a lot of leaves.

As I was pushing and raking and hauling, I had ample opportunity to reflect on how weightless each leaf was. I don’t have a scale in the house with the ability to detect any of the leaves in our yard. My arms, however, can provide evidence of detecting all of those leaves. Somehow, when you add drops of water and individual leaves in sufficient quantity, they have weight.

I thought as well about the picture of the leaf. By itself, it’s pretty small. I used my phone, and in its full size on flickr, the file is about 223K. In the old days, that would have taken up a whole floppy disk, but today, it hardly counts. However, add together enough of these leaves and they have real weight, measured in servers and heat and power and hazardous waste from the manufacturing process.

And the time, the time it takes to write this, to read it, to maintain the infrastructure that allows me to write and you to read this. There’s the opportunity cost of this writing and reading, the time that could have been spent in other conversation, the time that could have been spent working with a small child raking leaves.

You are waiting for a great moral. That encouraging words though small, add up to changed lives. That small pieces of time add up to books or to nothing, to social movements or to nothing. That pennies invested add up to millions, that pennies spent end up in candy or plastic packaging.

The moral is, however, up to you. Take whatever leaf it was that you saw as you were reading…and add it to the pile that you know will matter. Otherwise the time you just spent reading…is spent rather than invested.


I’m writing a series of 8 ways posts. Here are some of them:

To ruin your day
To be thanked
To increase your stress

To lose your faith
To make yourself angry
To make yourself jealous
To make yourself depressed
To ruin your marriage

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2 responses to “weighting

  1. In a suburb of the great lakes near a house I once lived in, the local ordinance required that everyone rake their leaves into the street so this giant vaccuum cleaner on a truck could come by once a week and suck them up. This drove my dad crazy. I think he was a little too uptight. He never noticed asthetics before, why start worrying about leaves?

    Last week I saw a guy raking leaves into a storm drain, and actually packing them down with the handle of his rake. I hope his basement floods.

  2. Pingback: Serving Purpose « wonderwebby