I recently had a big adventure.
It had that much sought after mix of daring do, fresh experiences, new cultures, buckets of wildlife and was all played out on another continent.
It would have made great ‘content’ for my website, and delivering it from the ‘field’ to your screen along the way would have been fairly straight forward. These days, with the help of new tools like satellite phones, it’s possible to blog from almost anywhere in the world.
I’ve written and spoken about the importance of blogging from the field on lots of occasions. A story told from under canvas in the middle of the Okavango – with the days trials and success sharply in focus surrounded by the sounds of the Delta – is bound to convey something a little more compelling, than anything I can muster from behind a computer screen in a London flat.
Sometimes clarity comes with retrospect. Sometimes the best stories are crafted with ample time for reflection in the afterglow of a well executed expedition.
But generally, my message to conservationists, is this: Write, blog, speak – jump up and down shouting – to anyone that might listen. Share your story with as much honesty and resolution as you can, whether it’s waist deep in mud, head first down a burrow, hanging on to the back of a pickup, halfway up a mountain, miles from home or just down the road. Whether it’s with sheer grit-your-teeth elation or overcome by a sense of despondent resignation. Concentrate on telling a story as well as you possibly can, because stories resonate more than depressing statistics. Conservationists might be small in number, but it’s made up for many times over in passion. Whatever happens, don’t lose your passion.
Don’t lose your passion
And that’s why I didn’t blog on my last expedition. This time, I wanted to savor the exhilarating moments with childlike selfishness. To watch innocently at the intricate life stories unfolding around me, without guessing at the outcome, or how it might look as a blog post.
For a few days, I wanted to be in the wilderness free from purpose. An experience, which is surely the reason most of us work to preserve big wide open spaces in the first place.
It was refreshing. It wasn’t easy. There were moments of sheer fear (hippos), confusion, elation and more besides. And I’ve returned with many stories, some that I will share in time and some for which my limited writing skills couldn’t ever do justice.
It’s reminded me again why I want to dedicate most of my life to conservation. For all those noble, silly-sounding idealistic reasons, but also because I selfishly want to experience that wild freedom again, free from the weight of guilt and responsibility that comes from seeing daily the slow and relentless erosion of our natural world.
And so I urge you, for all the necessity and expedience of public engagement, don’t burn yourselves out.
For if you lose the passion and conservation becomes just a job, then I think you lose the gift of story telling – and the gift of story telling can I think, change the world.