I love picking up nails. And trash.

If you’re like our family and you have kids that have already started school, or are starting this week, I wish you all the best. This time can be stressful in the best of times, and this certainly isn’t the best of times.

I find that going outside and getting fresh air can help alleviate some of that stress.

And thus, I find myself on the streets a lot these days. I’m running 3-4 times a week, and walking my 9-year old to school each weekday morning. And when possible, I grab a kid or two and go for a walk in the neighborhood. If there was ever a time to work hard to remain active, it’s now. I don’t have any hard data, but I’m pretty sure that if I wasn’t actively getting out on the road, I’d be at least 25% less active due to working from home.

Nails, and screws, and trash, oh my!

One of my favorite things to do when on the road is to pick up a nail or screw that I find. I’ll often return home from a run with a handful of them, and not-gonna-lie, many times I forget and they end up in the washing machine, banging around, just as confused about how they ended up there as my wife is.

I love picking up nails and screws and other would-be tire-puncturers when I see them. Because it’s honestly one of the most selfless things I’m given the chance to do.

See, when I pick up a nail off of the street, that’s a nail that eventually would have found it’s way into someone’s tire (or worse). And let’s face it, getting a flat tire just makes for a bummer of a day. 

True, I’ll never get a chance to see that person’s day saved. I just get to imagine it, which might be even better.

Similarly, when I see trash on the road, I have to pick it up. And just like the nails, I often come home with a pocket full of garbage. 

In this case, I’m not saving someone the aggravation of a flat tire, but I am doing a tiny bit toward helping our planet, and that makes me feel just as good. (And I feel even more compelled to help our planet after reading the incredible book, Braiding Sweetgrass.

Where it gets really good

I was recently on a run with my 16-year old (who runs cross country and is wicked fast, so when he runs with me it’s more like a very light jog him, and I’m just glad he doesn’t run backwards while talking to me, Apollo Creed-style) and he saw an empty Sprite bottle on the side of the road. He picked it up mid-stride and we kept on running. 

I smiled, because I knew he did that because he has seen me do the same countless times before.

One of my great hopes in life is that my kids grow up to be empathetic humans. I talked about this on my recent podcast episode with Sequoyah Glenn, in fact. To me, empathy is what’s missing in the world (and it’s what is required for the promise of America to work, btw).

It’s up to us to model that behavior for our children, and for anyone who might be watching. So go out today and help someone who you’ll never meet. I promise it will make your day.

I hope you’re happy,


PS – Turns out music in movies is more important than I thought