Coming from a town like Berkeley has exposed me to all kinds of crazy. The drug addicts, the bookworms, the hippies, and the jocks; mutual exclusivity is common since nobody can fit all categories at once. (Or can they? Sketch.) Anyway, I digress. The point is that categorizing by these labels is widely acceptable, albeit clichéd. That’s okay; I can dig.
What really bothers me is the idea that only a select few like to identify as “environmentalists.” It’s not a fad, so why be ashamed? Isn’t it similar to the irrational fear of associating with “feminism”? Some feel overburdened, frightened, or even annoyed when it comes to practicing anything green. But…
Reality check: if you breathe oxygen and drink water (if you’re SMHing, please seek medical attention), you are pro-environment. Thanks to evolution, we are actually pro-anything-that-helps-us-survive. Sometimes, we just have trouble identifying what these things are.
But why do I care? Because, despite coming from a liberal AF town in California, I only today realized – in a different country, mind you – what it truly means to be environmentally friendly.
While walking down the streets of Singapore after work, I thought about my life. (My mother says it builds character, okay?) “What in God’s name,” I screamed, “am I doing in a different country if not growing intellectually?” Absorbed in my catharsis, I evaded glances from many concerned Asians who thought I was experiencing menopause years too early.
Had I really shifted from California to this 100% humidity for no reason? Gradually, my brisk walk came to a standstill. I couldn’t tell if it was because I was fatigued from working out with Jillian Michaels or if my internship was slowly driving me insane. But I’m glad it did.
A fat, hairy black object flew by me. It was horrifying; anyone else would have practically undergone cardiac arrest, but see, I suffer from severe lethargy. (You know how it is.) So I just gasped and spun in circles until it finally stopped inches away from my face. Through my spectacles, I saw its beautiful wings quiver as I exhaled – it was a young butterfly. She fluttered as if to say, “Hello, friend,” and went on her way.
And the award for “my first friend in Singapore” went to a butterfly. Cute. Moving onward, I began humming to Hilary Duff (cue side-discussion on why she is amazing) and heard a mimicking echo from deep within the trees. Seriously, #whatwaslife? A bird had just sung my favorite song to me. I searched everywhere to greet this musical creature but ended up walking away empty-handed. I guess the beauty of nature sometimes just lies in listening and letting your imagination take the wheel.
During the rest of my walk home, an ant crawled up my arm, a 6-inch caterpillar caught my eye, and a lizard skittered beside my foot. Now, I won’t say I enjoyed these personal violations of space. But I will say that I had never before been able to look past my repulsion and notice the beautiful lives they contain in their miniature bodies.
In this moment, I realized something great: getting friendly with the environment may not be necessary, but it is truly worth the extra ten minutes. And no, loving nature is not overrated.
So, to those of you who are running to catch the bus to lecture, take the long route today. Just slow down a bit and appreciate the life around you; be its friend, if only for a moment. Feed a bird, spare a spider, or pet a fat squirrel (just make sure you don’t get rabies). It’ll make you feel something – anything – and teach you more than that two-hour biology lecture you dread attending every Tuesday and Thursday. Because, let’s be honest, you were going to siesta in the back of that auditorium anyway, weren’t you?