Following on from my last blog post, I am continuing the series of offcuts from my forthcoming book, “Stop Drifting, Start Rowing: One Woman’s Search for Happiness and Meaning Alone on the Pacific”, due to be published on October 15th this year. Please drop me a message if you would like an email reminder when the book becomes available.
As I arrived in Hawaii in 2008, I was quoted as saying, “It’s taken me about a million strokes to get here from San Francisco, and if I’d have stood there under the Golden Gate Bridge and thought to myself that one oarstroke isn’t going to make any difference, then I’d still be standing there. But I’ve demonstrated by putting one oarstroke after another that even tiny actions can add up to something really substantial.” I wanted to draw an analogy to the environmental actions that each of us can take to make a cumulative and collective difference.
We’ve been killing this earth through a thousand billion cuts. There have been a few major disasters, like the Gulf oil spill or the failure to find an accord in Copenhagen, but mostly the damage has been caused by a multitude of consumer decisions, multiplied up day after day, seven billion times across the globe.
So the good news is, that we can counteract those thousand billion cuts with a thousand billion conscious, responsible decisions. We can start to heal the earth, by taking responsibility as individual consumers and by being the change we want to see in the world.
For much of my life I thought I was too insignificant to make a difference. Then I realized that I already was making a difference, and it was not for the better. I was consuming and disposing without thinking of the consequences. I resolved to change my own behaviour, and to do all I could to spread the word and to help make other people more conscious of their personal environmental impact.
Maybe I’ll succeed in changing consciousness, or maybe I won’t – I can’t control how other people react to what I say or write or do. But I can at least be the kind of person who might succeed in changing consciousness. I can keep on doing the right things, for the right reasons, in the hope that I will spread some ripples of change.
Next blog post: we can change our stories.