What Can One Person Do?
30 Days of Climate Action and Inspiration
This French parable changed my life.
It goes like this:
A lily pond contains a single lily pad. Each day the number of lily pads doubles―two on the second day, four on the third, eight on the fourth, and so on.
The pond is completely full on the thirtieth day.
QUESTION: On what day is the pond half full?
I originally discovered this parable as a freshman in college--it was the opening to a book by Lester Brown. The purpose of the story was to illustrate the power of exponential growth and to suggest we mustn't waste the time we have because "a full pond" was closer than we might imagine.
At the time, Earth's population was just over four billion. We have nearly doubled since then, just as Lester Brown predicted.
The title of his book is also the answer to the parable:
ANSWER: The Twenty-Ninth day.
This parable stuck with me. I remember very little about what I read in college... but I do remember The Twenty Ninth Day. It set me on a course of environmental work for the rest of my life.
I wonder: would things be different now if the environmental movement had shared more thought-provoking and memorable stories and parables for the past forty years instead of doom-and-gloom warnings?
We are in need of our best most heart-felt storytellers now. We need stories that ennoble us and inspire us... stories that surprise us, stories that remind us how deeply we love life on Earth, stories that help us to remember who we are and why we are here.
If you want to change hearts and minds, tell stories.
Do you have a favorite inspiring parable?
Find (or write) a parable that truly resonates with your heart and share it with others.
Bonus: share it in the comments below!
Need an example? Check out "The Flight of the Hummingbird" -
Denise Rushing is an author, blogger, and environmental designer She is passionate about human-scale solutions to global challenges and creating a more beautiful future.