Monday was the first time I had downtime since I got back from Borneo (thank you Christopher Columbus.) First I sorted through my photos (soon to be uploaded to “The Facebook”). Next, I watched some short clips I had of Jojo, the world’s craziest and cutest orangutan; and then, I spent time reflecting on the 20-day experience, brainstorming on what needs to be done before the 80-day trip to Borneo; and then…I broke down into a heaping mess of tears. I thought about all the villages that will be destroyed before we return next year. I thought about the farmers we met who were only weeks away from losing their land, their livelihood and their lives. I thought about all the orangutans who sit and wait to be rescued. It was intense and it was a time.
Last week, the transition from Borneo on Friday, to Seoul and Singapore on Saturday, to Washington, DC on Sunday, and then to work on Monday, sent me for a loop. On Monday morning at 8:00am, I found myself walking down the familiar hallway to my desk. And it felt so surreal. Nothing had changed on the surface–except for the 940 unread emails and 44 voicemails from various members of Congress, politely asking for a call back! Didn’t they know I was a changed woman, that I had been shaken to my core by sights and stories so devastating, that I now feel immense pressure and responsibility knowing the truth about what is happening to the innocent villages and animals caught in the middle? Then, later in the week, I had a work event at a very “see and be seen” restaurant a few blocks from the Capitol. It was ritzy, and politicians and lobbyists were milling around, and I sat there with my glass of red wine, struggled to keep it together. My memory replayed to a week prior sitting on the floor of the longhouse in Ensaid Panjang, children scattered around playing, while we ate a simple dinner of rice and forest ferns. The disparity between the two evenings sent me into a spiral, full of guilt and a fierce desire to create change for the village of Ensaid Panjang.
Speaking with a friend on the phone earlier today, I tried to explain that I’ve never considered myself an “environmentalist”, and I don’t even think I deserve the label “Eco-Warrior.” Before Borneo, I didn’t “get it.” It took me and my own two legs standing in a virgin rainforest, literally being drawn to tears by the overwhelming beauty surrounding me–and then just a day later– standing in a palm oil-demolished rainforest, to fully understand the utter destruction we are causing this planet.
In my opinion whether you find yourself on the climate change train or deny that it’s happening till the cows come home, I really don’t care. What I care about is the fact that until we figure out a way to live on the moon, we are stuck with planet Earth. And call me crazy, but I don’t think Earth is such a bad gig. She’s beautiful and she’s willing to provide EVERYTHING we need for very little in return. But truth be told, we are stretching her thin, especially in parts of Borneo that are being rapidly destroyed for consumers . But the battle for Borneo isn’t over yet. For me, it’s just beginning. I hope you all join with me in this growing movement to stop deforestation and give back to a planet that has given us so much.