Plastic-Free July Eco-Challenge, Day 6: Be a Hummingbird

The Great Forest Fire

“Once upon a time, there was a beautiful forest where all the animals lived and thrived. Animals lived in harmony- the bear, the fox, the owl, and even the tiny hummingbird.

One day, a great and terrible fire consumed the forest. All the animals fled their homes. The animals huddled at the edge of the forest and watched the forest blaze. The squirrel, the frog, the raven, and the elk, and all the creatures gathered. All except one.

Dukdukdiya, the little hummingbird, would not abandon the forest. She flew to the stream, and picked up a single drop of water in her beak. Then the tiny bird flew into the forest and dropped the water on the fire.

Back and forth Dukdukdiya flew, from the stream to the fire, bringing a drop of water onto the flame each trip.

The other animals watched the hummingbird fly against the enormous fire, and they were frightened for their friend. Many of them called out to her, warning against the dangers of the smoke and the heat.

‘What can I do?’ cried the rabbit. ‘This fire is too hot.’

‘There is too much smoke!’ howled the wolf.

‘My wings will burn! My beak is too small!’ sobbed the owl.

But the little hummingbird persisted. To and fro, she picked up more and more water, one beakful at a time, and dropping it, bead by bead, onto the burning forest.

Finally the great bear said ‘Little Dukdukdiya, what are you doing?’

Without stopping, Dukdukdiya looked down at all her friends. She said, ‘I’m doing what I can.’”

The Flight of the Hummingbird by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

“I’m Doing What I Can”

This story has origins among the Quechan people of South America, as well as the Haida people of the North Pacific. And it honestly brings tears to my eyes every time I read the last line.

This is the essence and embodiment of the Plastic Free Eco-Challenge. It isn’t about eliminating every single piece of plastic from our lives. This is about doing what we can.

I was talking to a good friend this morning, and she mentioned her milk came with a plastic ring around it. It was something she never noticed before the eco-challenge. A small plastic ring doesn’t mean you can’t drink milk ever again. It is just something you become aware of. It’s up to you what to do with that information. Maybe you can search for a completely recyclable or compostable container. You can turn the plastic ring into a cat toy (I don’t know WHO could have done THAT). Or maybe you just make a mental note, and that’s the one small plastic item you throw away that day. It’s not the end of the world. This is about doing your best.

A Charm of Hummingbirds

On my next big adventure with connecting the community to ZooFit, I’m going to establish a group, online and IRL called the Hummingbirds. Our motto: We are doing what we can.

The Hummingbird is a perfect metaphor for ZooFit. Fitness is a journey, not a destination. Conservation issues aren’t going to be solved overnight. All we can ask is you do your best.

This initiative isn’t remotely thought through, but it’s been on my mind a lot lately. I want this to be the next “Sloth Army”. A support and accountability group to assist and encourage people to connect with the earth in healthy ways. And to teach them how to eat clean, live green, and train positive. It’s not about how fast you get to your desired outcome. The Hummingbirds is about making a difference, one step at a time.

Ignore the scale, ignore those who wrap bananas in plastic (but WHY?), ignore those driving huge Hummers, ignore those who tell you one donut won’t hurt anything, and ignore those who say having a donut is the end of the world.

At the end of the day, ask yourself one simple question- DID I DO MY BEST? Did I do everything I could to be the best version of myself today?

If the answer is “yes, I did everything I could”, then relax and let the weight of the world off your shoulders. Even if the answer is “no, I didn’t do the best I am capable of doing”, that’s still okay. Tomorrow is another day, another opportunity to shine and do better.

So, for the remainder of the month, while I pile on suggestions, stories, and tips about reducing plastic waste, remember the story of the Hummingbird. Just do your best. Do what you can. Be a hummingbird. And that will make all the difference in the world.

4 Comments

  1. A touching story! Let’s be hummingbirds and always do what we can without comparing us with others. We all have our gifts we can give to the world. Noone has to be good in everything but be the master in your own skills.

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