Archive for Wednesday, January 3, 2001

No more ‘nature’ for me

January 3, 2001

I'm not very good at making New Year's resolutions that I can keep.

It seems like it would be so easy to fit in 20 minutes of exercise a day. Yet my running shoes look like new and my "stairmaster" collects dust.

It should be simple not to fall behind doing laundry. Yet I waste entire weekends washing 10 loads of clothes.

It's not asking too much to be friendlier and more understanding with people I don't know. Yet I sometimes lose my temper with the check-out person at Wal-Mart, who is just having a bad day like I sometimes do.

Those resolutions, and others, get recycled every year. But I'm adding a new one that might be the hardest of all to keep. I resolve to stop watching nature programs.

I realize a better resolution might be to quit watching "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," but it doesn't send me to bed in tears, questioning if I am doing enough for the world.

Nature programs make me want to take the next ship to the Arctic to save orphaned, starving polar bears; to help injured lions in Africa, and to become a vigilante against poachers.

I could never be the person behind the camera, letting nature take its course. I couldn't have done nothing as hyenas surrounded a lioness with a broken leg and a newborn cub. Yet I watched for nearly an hour as the last days of the injured lion were shown before my eyes her pain, her love of her cub, her inability to fend off the hyenas any longer.

So I cried, and when my husband asked what was wrong, I asked why they couldn't have tranquilized the lion, mended her leg, let her recuperate and return her to the wild.

That same week, I was lured into a show on polar bears. The camera crew filmed the giant animals at play, raising their young and doing other happy things. Then they came upon a young, orphaned cub. He was malnourished, and curious about the people who were near him. They gave him a fish and some sips of warm tea, then left him to his likely fate, which was death.

I cried, and when my husband asked why, I asked why they couldn't have taken the small cub to a place that would feed and nurture him until he was strong enough to survive on his own.

Neither case seemed like asking too much, when there are groups that save whales stranded on the beach and communities that rally to return a wayward moose to where it belongs.

My husband reminded me that I can't even watch the journey of salmon without crying, and that I try to compensate for my inability to save the world by feeding all the stray cats in the neighborhood.

So the next time "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is a rerun, and while flipping through the channels I see mustangs running through a meadow or a grizzly bear fishing for dinner, I'm just going to turn the TV off, feed the stray cats, and go to bed feeling like I'm doing something worthwhile.

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