Tomorrow, Kaya will be 27 months. Not a very significant number at all, except as it relates to a post that I wrote around Kaya's 2nd birthday this year. The Unconventional Birthday Gift was one that I was very excited to give: instead of giving her a boat-load of unnecessary things that would pile up and take their toll, I wanted to give her something that would make a real difference in her world...and in ours as well. I ultimately decided that I wanted to inspire others to do something, to take on an action to be completed within 3 months, that would make some sort of difference for our planet, for her world.
Some people jumped on the idea right away, sharing within days, their excitement, intentions, and in some cases, the completion, of the action they had in mind. Their comments are there and I encourage you to check them out for some great ideas and inspirations.
Others of you mentioned to me that you had something in mind, and would be working on it over the months. This post is partly for you, to provide you that place, and my follow-through, so you can share your action with the rest of us.
And for the rest of you, who either didn't see the post, made no promises, or had no intentions of taking action, I write this for you, too. Let me explain.
You may have seen my post about the movie, HOME (which, by the way, can be watched in other languages, too--in my quick search, I found it in Italian, Spanish, German, and Russian). I'm still feeling VERY motivated and inspired from that movie, and wanted to share a conversation that ensued with my neighbor about this whole bilingual child-rearing thing.
She was telling me about a conversation she'd had with her Austrian mother-in-law a month before she died, in which her mother-in-law shared with her some of her regret at how she'd raised her kids. "I'd throw them in the car on the weekends and we'd head out on various camping trips to different countries," she shared, in so many words. "I wanted to teach them that the world was their playground, that they could go anywhere, and do anything, where ever they wanted to do it... And now," she lamented, "they are gone or soon-to-be-going." By instilling in her children this perspective that the world is their oyster (as well as by speaking to them in Danish), she ended up spending her aging days alone, with two children in Denmark and the other in the States. Naturally, they'd come visit from time to time, and were with her in her last 10 days, but that's no clearly substitute for relations built in the same vicinity.
I know that I can't guarantee that Kaya will stay close as we grow older. In fact, as our culture dictates, she will probably leave, and may not return. 'If you love them, set them free...', of course. I am in now way opposed to doing that. But what this conversation had me realize is the tendency that we have these days, that we've had in the past 50 years, to be off, to go, to fly away, to drive into the sunset just for the sake of driving, just for the sake of visiting...because we can. Planes are so affordable now, and despite the rising oil prices, so is gas. What is there to keep (most of) us from flying to Germany to visit relatives, or to do an exchange program in Spain? Money aside, nothing really. It's the way it is these days. It's just what you do. At least in my circle. Traveling internationally felt like a badge, road trips were something to brag about. They still are, actually. And my point is this: what am I doing? Why? Do I really want to instill in my daughter the importance of flying all over the world, to possibly fall in love and live 4500 lbs of CO2 away (in Germany)?
Not really, now that I think about it.
Not really, at all.
And not just because I want her close.
It's that movie. It's the reality.
Changes have to happen or we'll be living under conditions that we've never encountered before.
And what could that mean for Kaya? For all of our kids? And theirs?
I hate saying stuff like that, especially in that way. I know that there are many people who hear it and turn their cheek. For good reason. It's f-ing overwhelming. What I'm supposed to do about it? What can I do? What is little old me really going to be able to do to reverse the trends of 50 years? I'm sure it isn't as dire as they say. The Great (insert term of choice) won't let that happen.
And that's exactly why I write, publicly now. Because I'm confident that each one of us, and thus all of us together, can make a difference, can un-do some of what has been done to this earth. It's just a matter of keeping our heads in the game (i.e. looking at it head-on, sans overwhelm, sans guilt...), sharing our efforts with others, and remembering that everyone has choice. No one likes to be "should" upon.
I have plans. Many of us do.
I've taken actions, as most of have.
And in due time, I will share more of them.
But for now, I'm hoping that you will write about yours...be it the one/s you were inspired to take 3 months ago on Kaya's birthday, or the ones that you just take because you, too, recognize the importance of loving our planet and inspiring others to do the same.
Sharing inspires others.
Hope you'll consider it.