The answer – from a six year old

You know some days every good sustainability crusader wonders if it is all worth it. Deep down we kind of get that the human species will die off eventually. What is the point of all the work, the behaviour change programs, the rallies and petitions?

And some days I draw a weird sort of  comfort from the fact that the earth will  sort us out in her own way, regardless of what we do. I can stop and breath for a moment.

And then I wonder . . . .I mean I would never go and buy a hummer, but  . . .

The ladyThe other day Tim spent three days making a sand sculpture for the 2013 Nectar Festival. After helping him pound sand for the first day, my job was to stand and chat to people, let them know what he was doing, and make sure the kids who always end up playing in the spare sand don’t jump all over the work until he decides he is finished.

I notice a little boy watching. I wandered over to him. He was about six, maybe five . I didn’t find out his name so I will call him NK – Nice Kid. We  had a conversation.

The conversation went a bit like this:

NK-  That is a good sand thing. It’s a lady. What will happen when he is finished making  her?

Me – Mmmmmm What do you think will happen?

NK – It’s only made of sand, it might get wrecked. (he pauses) That would be sad.

Me – Yes I suppose so, the rain might make her wet, the wind might blow her away. Or someone might jump on her or smash her.

NK – Then it only be a pile of sand.

Me – Yes I suppose so – she was made of sand so she will be sand.

NK  – Will that man (being Tim) be sad. He is making her. Won’t he be sad?

Me –  Funny everyone asks that. But he doesn’t mind at all. He brings her to life, he enjoys making her, see he is gently making her? He really has to concentrate. It takes a long time too, but he is not sad when she is sand again. That’s amazing hey? All that work and he doesn’t mind.

NK – I hope no one wrecks her before he is finished. (he pauses) It’s like she is born and then she will be dead.

Me – (slightly shocked) I suppose it is like that. When things die they go back to the earth. She goes back to sand.

NK  – And animals– my bird died and we buried it in the garden. Everything that dies goes back to the earth. Everything comes from the earth and goes back to the earth. People too.

Is this the reincarnation of the Dali Lama?

( I pause  – I am slightly freaking at this point.  He is so sure of himself. Remember, this kid is six. Then I start thinking  maybe this kid is the reincarnation of the Dali Lama or something.)

Me – If we all go back to the earth, I wonder if the earth will die?

NK – (he looks astonished, as if I have not been listening) Of course, everything dies and the earth will die too.

Me – Oh, how will the earth die?

(Imagining he has heard about global warming, or peak oil, or over population . . .  or is the reincarnation of the Dali Lama)

NK – The sun will go out. Then everything will die.

Me  – Oh ( I really had not thought about the sun going out). . . . . when will that happen?

NK-  Oh , maybe  in about 1,500 years. You won’t remember. You will be in the earth.

Me – Oh that sounds sad. No more earth. Are you worried about that?

NK – Why would I worry? Everything dies. That man (being Tim) is not sad about his sand lady.

Me – I feel a bit sad about the earth.

NK – Yeah maybe. But we could concentrate and be gentle as she dies.  And don’t anyone wreck her before her time to die. . . . .


I don’t know – maybe all six year olds are the reincarnation of the Dali Lama!


7 Responses to The answer – from a six year old

  1. Avatar for Michelle Hovane
    Michelle Hovane March 18, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    Oh – thanks for that post – that is really brilliant – yep – the best bit of wisdom I have heard in ages – better than the Dali Lama even and yeah maybe all 6 yr olds are re-incarnations of wise beings… My (just 7) son feels like it sometimes….

  2. Avatar for Joy graham
    Joy graham March 19, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    That’s a wonderful story Shani….one of what connects us to each other and the earth.

  3. Avatar for Ben Alpers
    Ben Alpers March 21, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    Thanks Shani and NK , I love that story, a conversation at the core, it’s all about the journey and the earth is a beautiful place. Yep, thankyou Tim as well, and the sand 🙂

    • Avatar for Vivian McDermott
      Vivian McDermott May 7, 2015 at 4:23 am #

      The tears are streaming down my face at the sensitivity of this small, competent ,caring intuitive child ,expressing his wisdom,being authentic and honestly speaking from the heart.
      If he is a representative of our future citizens ,then the world is in good ,resilient wise, and knowing hands ,with the lateral thinking to make it happen in the best way possible for humankind.

  4. Avatar for Looch
    Looch July 22, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    Beautiful story. There are some amazing kids around, more noticeably wise at 6 than at 12 when they’re too cool. I had a bit of a laugh at the Dali Lama, is that a Buddhist surrealist combo? The Dalai with a curly moustache maybe…

    • Avatar for Shani
      Shani July 23, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

      So glad you got my joke Looch!
      (no truly terrible spelling error for an ex school principal, but I will leave it there in case anyone else gets it!)

  5. Avatar for Margaret Schubert
    Margaret Schubert June 22, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

    Focus and be gentle. Don’t worry.

    Thanks Shani

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