A Gift


By: Cary Zavala/


Captain Planet, he’s our Hero

Gonna take pollution

Down to zero


Anyone remember this little tune?  From an American animated TV show in the early ‘90’s? Captain Planet came to life for me this Fall.  I was reminded again this morning during my morning walk about his Powers.  Let me tell you.

One early crisp morning I was walking through the City of Adrian’s beautiful historic district. Amidst the crunching of the leaves and the fine architectural detail of the neighborhood homes, other sights appeared in my vision.  These ones were not so appealing.  Strewn along the grasses, walkways, and street sides was a collection of garbage.  All types of trash. Paper, cups, broken glass bottles, fast-food bags, CD cases, cigarette butts.

As I pondered just what thoughts may go through people’s heads when they carelessly toss items out the car windows or drops things along their way, I rounded the corner and low and behold, there before me was an elderly man with a bag, PICKING UP THE GARBAGE! It was not his mess, and yet here he was, intentionally tidying up his neighborhood…and with a smile on his face.  I stopped to express gratitude – I’m a firm believer in catching and commenting on acts of kindness and love.  Here was exactly that.  And his words?  “I’m just doing my part to keep America beautiful.”

As his words and actions touched my heart, tears formed in my eyes and the tune “Captain Planet” formed in my mind.  As I sang the tune to him and told him thank you, his smile grew even bigger.  Made. My. Day.  Perhaps his too.

As the holiday season is upon us, this morning I was thinking of gifts. As I walked along this same street, I found myself wondering what it would be like to teach the Captain Planet concept to our children.  What a gift to model and experience together the work and reward of “just doing our part to keep America beautiful.”  It starts in our own yard.  Then out into our neighborhood.  Maybe even into our village, township, or city.

Pic MZ SuperHero

Children delight in spending time with us and in receiving our undivided (non-multi-tasking) attention.  What a gift to bestow upon a loved one.  The gift of loving our home, loving our community, loving our planet.  As parents, we are our children’s most important teachers.  They watch and listen and learn so much from us.  Let’s carefully consider what type of gifts we truly want to give.  It’s not too late.

P.S.  I have decided there may be no thought involved when people throw garbage out the window or toss it onto the sidewalks and lawns.  Let’s just say it’s the opposite of the practice of mindfulness.  Captain Planet, thank you for bringing this to our attention – help us be mindful at this time of the year and always, that it is our job to Keep America Beautiful.


P.P.S.  Captain Planet’s catchphrase, “The Power is Yours!” is said to mean that all have the power to end the destruction of the planet if we work together as one world.  Now isn’t that a powerful concept.  Peace to you and your family.



Cary Zavala

… is a licensed professional counselor and a skilled parenting educator. Cary is joining with Lenawee Great Start in presenting a series of Parent Education talks during the 2014-2015 year (register here to attend!).

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