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!