As I have mentioned in the past, one of my regular weekly activities is working at the local rabbit shelter. I find it to be enjoyable work: it is the sort of manual labor that I can lose myself in, the folks are especially appreciative of the assistance - being the resident Highland Athlete, guess whose job it is to throw all the bags into the dumpster? - and, of course, the rabbits need me.
Part of the job is the changing of the rabbit cages.
Besides litter boxes which are changed weekly, every cage has a tray in it with newsprint. Every week in a cycle, 100 or so cages have their newsprint removed, their bottoms swept out, wiped down with vinegar, and then restocked with newsprint.
For the most part we use a local "free" sort of news magazine, the sort that almost every large city seems to have, incorporating a listing of local art events, columns, newsworthy items, and the occasional raunchy ad. I have no idea how many they print, but we sure seem to end up with a lot of them.
As I finish wiping out the pan bottom I put them in (lengthwise or vertical, depending on the cage size) and look at the covers or the insides where I have determined the halfway split to be. All of these local issues, so passionately and zealously written about. All these words about art and food and entertainment, all these pictures about things of local interest taken with just the right angle and just the right light for a cover.
All to end up underneath rabbit poop and hay and (in some cases) washed out by urine, to be disposed of weekly.
It is a humbling thing, one I sometimes wonder (as I heave another bag over the edge of the dumpster or collect a mass of paper and poop into the trash bag) if the authors think about, even as I contemplate the outputs of my own life. Do they know the end result of so much of their work? Or are the consumed by the next big thing, constantly moving towards a horizon of imagined relevance without asking if what they are doing is actually making a difference?
It is making a difference in at least one sense. The rabbits are quite appreciative.