Resolving To Find The Beast Within

By Amy Miller

There are people who make New Year’s Resolutions and those who think we are silly.

January 1 gives the former a date to wipe the slate clean. On Feb. 1, we might decide to consume less or moisturize more. On March 1, we might swear to eat more healthfully or exercise more diligently. But on Jan. 1, we reinvent ourselves.

The other day I found the kind of inspiration one needs before crafting resolutions. It came from Malaysia in an award-winning documentary about purposefully choosing one’s path. It also happened to be about protecting our planet.

“Man & Nature,” an 8-minute video, was produced on the tropical island of Lankawi and it features Irshad Mobarak, who was a banker before he became a naturalist.

“After five years of banking I realized this is not what I want to do,” said Mobarak, whose sister is my friend in Maine. Mobarak concedes some people may want to be bankers and “that’s fine.” But Mobarak found “I had this connection to nature …I really wanted to get back to.”

Mobarak asks each of us to park ourselves in a corner and watch the birds. He thinks we’ll find they are not so different: they also go through challenges and relationships. If we keep watching we’ll learn how animals protect each other. The squid, for instance, gives an alarm that an animal of prey is coming. And we can learn cooperation from the little bird who attacks the eagle.

“We are caught up as human beings in a fast moving world and we have lost our connection to the environment; this is something that has left us empty,” Mobarak said.

My job at the EPA is to write, to promote a government regulatory agency. But it is also to be part of an organization that aims to give humans and trees and animals a healthier more vibrant connection.

As with many people, my dog is my most intimate connection with nature. When she ate one of our live chickens recently I was reminded that she is still a beast. When she refuses to obey me, I am reminded that the Husky in her is determined genetically to be fiercely independent.

As my New Year’s Resolution, instead of putting on more controls – eat less, exercise more, organize better – I will work on removing some controls. Perhaps I will resolve to honor the beast within and the human connection to nature.

About the author: Amy Miller is a writer who works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. She lives in Maine with her husband, two children, seven chickens, two parakeets, dog and a great community.

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