What I Thought I Knew

You never know what you have until it’s gone. So, naturally, I try not to take anything for granted. I knew that. I understood it. It’s an old tired saying. How can I not?

But I didn’t.

I am an advocate of living an eco-friendly lifestyle, of maximizing each resource before counting if off as waste, of reduce-reuse-and-recycle, of bringing your own bag, of choosing organic and responsibly-made/sourced products, etc. So I felt pretty good about myself. I felt like I deserved my spot on Earth, because I protected my spot. I wasn’t a nomad who exploited one spot, blamed it on the next guy then moved on to a greener pasture.

Last week, I took a vacation with a couple of friends. We visited Lake Sebu in South Cotabato, Philippines. It’s the area where the indigent T’boli people thrive. Sure, they have our modern conveniences — cemented roads, cellular networks, internet, and junk food, but they didn’t have a stable source of clean water. They were surrounded by waterfalls and lakes, and they had no access to clean water.

During our stay, I was extra mindful of my water consumption — mostly in taking a bath, washing my hands, and brushing my teeth. I didn’t think much would change, but I was surprised. Nothing I did was haphazard or thoughtless. I used exactly the right amount, and as it happens, I can still save a lot of water.

I felt a little hypocritical then — wanting to save the world and forgetting something so simple as my water consumption.

But perhaps, it really is just not possible to know the value of something. Perhaps, we will always have room for improvement. Perhaps, it is just a process, and there is no ending.

And actually, this experience has been a really good thing. Note to self, you don’t know everything. 😛

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