“I’m concerned about the blueberries.” That’s what the billboard said. It went up on I-69 outside of Flint, Michigan with no context. Just a blue billboard with most of a white circle and the words “I’m concerned about the blueberries” in plain white text. What did it mean? Who put it up? Its sponsor remained anonymous and its message made no sense.
Of course, that didn’t stop people from speculating. Was it a reference to marijuana? A racist code? A condemnation of gum-chewing? In line with current events, was it a message in opposition to the Affordable Care Act? “This person has an affiliation with Blue Cross Blue Shield. That is all I will say,” one woman said on Facebook.
She was wrong. After two weeks, the local businessman behind the billboard came forward. When most of us want to share cryptic wisdom with the world, we post on Facebook. Phil Shaltz bought a billboard, because he could.
The sentence itself came out of the mouth of a young tour guide he met on a recent tour of Alaska. The only real problem in the man’s life, it seems, was that he was “concerned about the blueberries.” There might not be enough rain, he explained.
At first, he judged the tour guide: all of the problems in the world, and in others’ lives, and this kid is worried about wild blueberries? There isn’t even anything he can do about it, since blueberries depend on rainfall.
Then he gave it more thought and realized that everyone has “blueberries.” Your neighbor’s insurmountable obstacle might be something you laugh off as a first world problem. That doesn’t make it any less of a problem, or any easier for that person to solve.
We all go through the day and we see people who have blueberries – their own issues – and we don’t do anything. Even when it’s not about rain, when it’s something we can impact, we show just how desensitized we’ve become. We aren’t as helpful to the common man in even the small things in life.
What are the blueberries in your life? Is there anything that you worry about that can’t be fixed? More importantly, does anyone you meet have a problem that they can’t solve, but there’s some way that you can help? Do it.
Of course, all of that doesn’t really fit on a billboard. A billboard that just says “Hey, help other people” is boring.