Cool Buddies

Backyard Conservationist [by Sharada]

Posted in Environment, Life by Ratheesh & Sharada on April 17, 2011

Conserving rain forests, conserving wildlife, conserving glaciers, conserving endangered species – conservation is the buzz word now; the need of the hour. It is cool to be a conservationist at present, if you are not into conservation you are sneered at, looked down upon like the scum – like a fashion faux paus. It is the best time to cash in on the planet’s sad state; to make the most out of earth’s peril. There are various causes to choose from lest you are left behind due to lack of misfortunes. The chosen cause could be anything as long as it is related to saving the planet. “Saving the planet” causes are considered the elite in the conservation circles. There can be other “lesser” causes that could be close to your heart like child labour, however the conservationists are way ahead of these. The latest trend in conservation, thanks to the Fukushima disaster, happens to be anti-nuclear activism. Suddenly nuclear power has been promoted as the single most dangerous threat that the earth is facing.

In this age, a simple house wife’s meager effort to conserve the water that is over-flowing from a neighbour’s tank and getting wasted struck me like a sharp contrast and shook me up. As I got out of my bed and lazily walked downstairs one Saturday morning with breakfast being the only thing on my mind, I heard continuous flow of water outside our kitchen. I saw that our neighbour’s tank was over-flowing. The first thought that came to my mind was anger against the neighbour who had little concern towards world’s water problems. How could they afford to waste so much water when there is no drinking water in most parts of the world, aren’t they aware of the shortage of water and the water wars that are being fought world over. With the aroma of breakfast soon drowning these thoughts, I settled with the morning paper to enjoy my dosa. But soon I found my mom worrying about the water that was getting wasted. She wanted to see if I have some idea to route the water to our parched garden. I soon swung into action thinking of sleek ideas to connect pipes, thinking of water level, force, and physics of motion to see the most efficient way to change its course of flow into our garden.

With precious minutes past, with only thoughts and little action, my mom humbly kept a small vessel under the water pipe and started emptying this into our garden. The vessel would fill within a matter of seconds soon to be replaced by another vessel alternatively. My first reaction was ridicule; I told her how inefficient this method was – akin to filling an ocean with buckets of water. But her determination soon put me to shame and I decided to join the party, helping her fill up the small vessel and emptying it into our garden. Sitting beside this pipe, in our neighbour’s house and watching this small vessel fill up and my 67 year old mom’s excitement to see the plants being watered gave me a lot of perspective. I stepped down from my pedestal of earth’s conservationist and started enjoying this simple act of filling up small vessels of water and saving whatever little we could. I got completely involved in this activity and at the end of the exercise experienced complete satisfaction of being an active participant of what I would call “backyard conservation”.

With our busy lifestyles and “high thinking”, how easily we miss these simple but precious acts of conservation. Like the story about a zen master I read recently, who was considered as one of the greatest philosophers and when his country was in distress was called upon by the Government to save the country. His disciples came running to him and said “Master, the time has come, like you have always preached that we should save the people”. He simply smiled, got up and walked towards the pavement to help a beggar and said “It is not required to save the world, we only need to perform simple acts of kindness that can be of help to the needy at the moment and the world will be a better place”. And it is as simple as that. It is not necessary to think big and believe that you can save the world by doing great miracles. Simple acts make a difference to the world if each one of us starts to indulge in them at every available opportunity.

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