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Taking Responsibility For Our Creations

Bamboo Waterfall in Kahule, Nepal

Many people had told me that taking an airplane would be safer and on several occasions I found myself wondering if I should've listened to them. The eight hour ride on a tourist bus between Pokhara and Kathmandu wasn't the most comfortable, but that's what I get for spending $5 to take me more than 280km (170+ miles) over mountains where the roads were littered with evidence of total failure.

As I gazed out the window and watched the landscape change from city to mountainous countryside and then back to city, I couldn't help but feel saddened by how enthusiastically the cities seem to grow. So much pollution, waste, and destruction follow in their path leaving the Earth malformed, blackened, and bare.

It's the monsoon season here in Nepal and the rivers are raging. Small streams of water trickle down everywhere from the green mountains. The locals often cut the bottoms off old plastic bottles and use them as funnels to create small water spouts. More commonly though, they use flat stones or pieces of bamboo sliced in half to create channels that direct the trickling streams into neat little picturesque waterfalls.

These water spouts are used for everything from filling buckets of drinking water, to washing clothes, to brushing teeth, and yes, even for taking a shower (on one occasion, the waterfall pictured above was my shower). All of this activity often takes place on the roadside, fully visible to passing traffic.

As the bus approached Kathmandu and the human creations mixed with mother nature at an increasingly depressing rate, I looked at one of those simple bamboo waterspouts and thought about what I would find in its place in the developed world: a complex network of manufactured plastic and copper pipes.

It got me thinking about how when we choose to take matters into our own hands and create things that we feel nature isn't already providing for us, we become fully responsible for those creations. When we create, we become responsible for what nature has found a way incorporate by default: sustainability.

Reusing plastic bottles for anything at all is a lot better than just buying and tossing them, but I realized that this need for responsibility extends much further than just plastic bottles. It extends much deeper than our desire to change and control our environment.

We're constantly creating things whether we realize it or not. Wealth. Relationships. Responsibilities. Problems. Circumstances. Risks. Thoughts. Feelings. Ideas.

When we create wealth for example, we have a responsibility to use that wealth to support the growth of things that will be conducive to harmony. That means choosing how we spend our money wisely. It means using our knowledge and our potential in ways that contribute to positive growth.

When we create a relationship, we have a responsibility to nurture trust, honesty, and respect. That means having integrity and being reliable. It means sharing, communicating, and offering help without asking for something in return.

When we feed our body we're providing it with fuel to create new cells and as such, we have a responsibility to ensure that our creation is harmonious with nature. That means eating healthy and exercising to maintain a full range of functionality and maximize long-term well-being.

Life is creation. Life is responsibility. Failing to accept responsibility is failing to accept life.

Are you taking full responsibility for all the things you create or do you create and then hope that somehow nature will lend you a helping hand? That somehow everything will turn out OK if you ignore the problems with your creation?

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  1. I think you are on a very interesting journey and I’m not talking about your travels through countries though that is fascinating too. I remember also how much of life in Nepal (& India too) goes on publicly, it’s quite different & amazing for us isn’t it? But you’re really searching & I think it’s wonderful because if you’re not afraid to ask the hard questions then hopefully you won’t be afraid to accept the hard answers.

    Am I taking responsibility? No, not fully. Am I making steps towards it? Yes absolutely! In some ways I always have been more aware than some – but I certainly have a long, long way to go. I feel like I’m on my own rather enthusiastic journey right now so thanks Raam. I’m getting a lot from your thought provoking ideas.

    • Thank you, Majeeda!

      You’re absolutely right about life being so different in these countries compared to what I grew up with in the USA. But I think that observing how even though we may live such different lives, we’re not all that different. We all still need to drink water, wash our clothes, and clean ourselves.

      And about the responsibility: I think we all can learn to be more responsible. Just last week, I wrote a post about how we matter the most. That post was born from my recognizing that I wasn’t being responsible for my own health. If we can so easily forget to be responsible for something that close to home (our own bodies), then I’m sure that being responsible for other things will be equally as challenging!

  2. Most definitely I both take responsibility and, in turn, ignore problems I’m creating. I’m not perfect, but I am becoming more aware and conscious each day. Little by little I get better, I create and I take responsibility. What a journey you are on — I’m proud to know you and follow you and learn from you, Raam.

    • None of us are perfect, but I think recognizing our imperfections is the first step towards improving! All we can do is improve in this moment. The current moment isn’t a very long time, so there’s only so much we can do. Recognizing that fact and being at peace with it really makes improvement a straightforward task!

      Thank you for the comment, Katie!

  3. Beautiful, Raam! I’ve been thinking about ‘life is responsibility’ lately, along with happiness. It seems to me life is more about responsibility than happiness – but perhaps if your life is consciously lived to be more in tune with nature, then you’ll feel happy about that. They are both connected in a way. Anyway, thank you for sharing this lovely piece!

    • Thank you, Lynn!

      Interesting point about happiness and responsibility. I think it’s when we’re not taking responsibility for things that we’re supposed to be, that we become unhappy — when we feel like our problems are someone else’s responsibility, we lose the ability to feel like we can do anything about it and that gives us a reason to be unhappy.

      Very thought-provoking idea… I’m going to spend some time contemplating this connection!

  4. Hi Raam,
    Indeed, I feel we are all put on this planet to express and create. It is both our greatest curse and greatest blessing. Turning within and listening to our Authentic Nature will always have us creating with the good of all concerned. When we are caught up in vanity and ego centric creation we leave a destructive footprint. We have all heard of Carbon Footprints…. we have to be aware of our own “Ego Footprints.”

    • “Ego Footprints”, I really like that!

      I agree. When we’re connected with our True Self we create things that are beneficial to the whole. I think meditation is vital to this — it helps us regularly reconnect with the real reality and assists us in making decisions and choices that are in sync with the universe.

      Thank you for the comment, Rob!

  5. Hi Raam,

    I love your prose in this piece – very eloquent.

    I was struck by the part about cities. Are cities inherently bad? It seems people have been drawn to cities from almost the beginning of time. The idea of consciously creating a city though seems a tough challenge with so many parties involved.

    I agree with you completely – life is about being awake and taking responsibility. None of us our perfect yet, but we can enjoy traveling the road together.

    • Thank you, Sandra!

      My thought about cities actually extended from how long they’ve been around. I wondered to myself if they were necessary and then when I realized they’ve been around for so long and started wondering why they’re so “popular”.

      I think the root cause is the distribution of wealth and the desire by a greater number of people to obtain more of it. Coming together in a small area became the best way to increase wealth. I think the negative side-effects of cities are clear, but I think technology is now giving us new means of creating and building wealth without congregating in one area.

      I don’t think this means cities need to go away, but rather that they don’t need to keep growing. We can refine our cities and make them less detrimental to our health and the environment while continuing to provide opportunities to a growing population by using the power of the Internet.

      • I believe cities were originally founded for mutual protection from raiders. Obviously, that’s not an issue today.

        I can tell you why I choose to live in cities. It’s for the interaction with multiple people and the wonderful things they can build. A forest can be peaceful and beautiful, but there is no art or theater in it.

        I think that the way to make cities better for the environment is to make them more dense, using the buildings that already exist. Many cities like mine have a semi-vacant core. If people lived closer together, biking, walking and public transit would be more feasible as forms of transportation. City dwellers usually have a much smaller environmental footprint than suburban dwellers, for example. I think it’s sprawl that’s really unsustainable.

        • Hi Jennifer,

          I’d have to disagree with there being no art or theater in the forest! I find plenty of both every time I spend time there!

          I do agree that the way to make cities better for the environment is to make them denser. I also think it’s crucial for public transportation, biking paths, and sidewalks to be a priority so that they become an option to the residents. If there are no bike paths or the sidewalks are terrible or even non-existant, biking and walking becomes too dangerous and simply not an option.

          I think over time, most people will automatically choose the “healthier” option as long as their safety isn’t a concern.

  6. Raam and Sandra – I think it was in ‘Dirt! The Movie’ that there was a great segment on regreening the cities. It was really inspiring. One part showed how when a dump truck was left parked in the middle of the city after it’s owned suffered an accident it ”naturally” regreened itself in the tray.

    The other bits were human facilitated by memory – but a lot can be done even in the city if people aren’t afraid to do it. I think that many people now, even where I live (even I have fallen victim to this mentality at times I admit) will tend toward getting rid of anything that they fear will cause them work and any sort of garden or greening they place in that category…for example “I must cut down that tree ‘cos it’s dropping leaves all over my lawn” (even though it’s given lovely shade). lol.

    I really loved the movie dirt! – it’s very much an all ages film but even though I’m older I found it really sweet and inspiring personally.

    • Thank you for the comment, Majeeda!

      I haven’t seen “Dirt! The Move” (although it’s on my list!), but I totally understand what you mean by the mentality of getting rid of green stuff because it’s an inconvenience. I think the only thing that’s really going to change that is when people realize, accept, and understand how plants, trees, and nature in general has such a hugely positive impact on our wellbeing.

      When science finally proves without any doubt that the act of cultivating plants and walking through forests actually heals our body, and when the general public understands how vital all the greenery is to long-term and short-term sustainability, only then I fear will society change their mentality.

      Until then, each and every one of us can help march towards that future by taking action, educating others, and being an example for others to follow. I personally intend to start learning a lot more about gardening and farming when I get back to the States in a few weeks!

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