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  • Writer's pictureLiza Stirlinglass

Words that Count

'The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.'

How I wish I had the eloquence of David Orr to summarize so beautifully what I needed to hear this morning. The words, posted on a friend's Facebook timeline, spoke to my unsettled mind.

I had been listening earlier to #RadioFour, #TheTodayProgramme, always a dangerous gamble if one is to remain hopeful. My disquiet was not a result of the interviews or the usual avoidance tactics used by politicians of any party, it was the phone in's by several over seventies who had had their jags. I am pleased for them, and cheer that this can happen.

Yet, can you sense the but? it was the tone of selfishness that grated on me. The I want, I want, I want of the first caller, all the way through to the last. Travel was on every callers mind and getting back to normal, hugs of course and who would begrudge anyone that? I'm longing for a hug. What became clear as the I want's continued was that the callers who made it through had not considered any form of change after this period of lock down. That constant air travel, buying stuff and popping over to one's various homes was simply not good for the rest of the planet, not least the animals and insects that are being decimated by our human behaviour. And not one said a simple thank you.

I was left torn for the rest of the day. Celebrating the fact that the vaccinations will make the world humanely safer and a fear that in our collective rush to get back to normal we will re-create the harm that threatens to bring us all to a grinding halt, more permanently and dangerously than any lock down. So before I go to bed, I am going to take with me the words of Robert Frost and pledge, that in my return to normal, I will take the road less traveled and consider each forward step, trying to leave as small an imprint as I possibly can.

The Road Not Taken BY ROBERT FROST Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveller, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.

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