FEATURED WRITER Archana S. Kumar's 'The warfare that began with a crackle'
|Photo credit : Sudharsan Premkumar|
The thundering sound of the cracking glacier echoed from the Exit glacier below my hanging feet. The 6km long glacier had just lost another tiny muscle from its enormous body. Four and half miles into the Harding ice field trail hike in southern Alaska I found a cliff to sit and view the glacier from the top.
The trail started with a thick tree cover which soon opened bright into clear blue skies with wild flowers on one side and the glacier on the other. Crossing countless mini streams and small snow patches, here I am facing the vast expansion of glacial blue ice fields with its creases and folds carved by the elements of nature that looked surreal. The sound of the water running through the crevices of the glacier below and the green meadows with small yellow star like wildflowers behind me enticed me into a world of calmness stirring me from deep within. My thoughts slowly drifted to the markers I saw while driving towards the trailhead earlier today morning. The markers mentioned a four digit number starting from 1899 and kept increasing as we came closer to the trailhead where the glacier breaks into a river. Those markers represented the size of the glacier in those corresponding years. The glacier almost the size of 6000 football fields today was double that size a hundred years ago. It ached a little to see this fast receding glacier.
I was privileged enough to travel to these exotic places which will vanish few years down the lane. The words like climate change, pollution and global warming struck a chord in my mind. Slowly catching up were the words green living, sustainability and recycling. I should probably start living that way, I thought to myself.
After my return from Alaska I started working on my lifestyle changes slowly. It started with my hesitation to grab a plastic spoon from the mini shelves with plastic cutleries at the first day of work after vacation. That day I used my hands to eat lunch. The fact that I had to wash my hands again was not inconvenient in any aspect . The happiness this little action gave me made me bring my own stainless steel cutlery with my lunch box going forward. Eventually I caught the habit of carrying my own cutleries everywhere.
Starting with cutlery I slowly added reusable bags and reusable water bottles. I ventured into making my own cleaning supplies and body butters to cut down on the countless bottles of moisturisers and cleaning supplies. Bulk store visits with my own jars and bottles gave me utmost satisfaction. Every time I reduce something that would go to trash, I felt a mini victory in my mind. Every time I tried to live a sustainable life, the intensity of the sound of the cracking glacier was less in my mind. Even though I know that the glacier is still receding, doing my part for mother nature had its own positive impact on my everyday life. From the clothes I wear to the food I eat ,my perspectives and likings were slowly changing.
While I was trying to incorporate these changes on an everyday basis, what I did not realise was my sustainability obsessions creeping in slowly and subconsciously. Once at a small local restaurant chain the waitress served me food with a plastic spoon which I returned saying I had my own cutlery. The super busy waitress politely took back the unused spoon and threw it in the trash. The sole purpose of me carrying my own reusable cutlery was defeated. My eyes literally welled up with deep frustration unable to accept this incident. This incident reeled me back to reality. My compulsive obsession to reduce plastics was actually making my stronger self weaker now. It dawned on me that even though I’m fighting to change my way of doing things to practice sustainability, I’m not in a battle against plastics and my victory trophy is not in reducing the trash the world generates. Rather it is in the mindful balance between the contentment of what I’m doing and making peace with what I cannot do.
The memory of the cracking sound from the Exit glacier keeps me going in my effort to combat the invisible and visible threats to Mother Nature that I identify with the armor called sustainability. I emerge a war hero from my everyday battle, sometimes working on my little setbacks to get better but most of the times flashing the victory smile.
About the writer
After living in different cities in India throughout her childhood, Archana currently lives in Longmont, USA. Archana spends the summer weekends hiking the local trails and the winter weekends snowboarding the ski slopes. She enjoys gardening and baking on an everyday basis while day dreaming about future travel. This piece was Archana's final submission after a six-week writing workshop conducted by Shweta Ganesh Kumar - editor of Inkspire.