by Adrien Tofighi, Second Nature Intern

There is no specific reason for me to help you understand why I am part of this kind of work. Although I could single out a few events, I would be discrediting every little experience that I’ve had throughout my life, each of which has indicated to me that this choice of lifestyle is the only logical one for me.

I could mention my love for always being in nature since I was a child as I grew up on an old farm, harvesting honey from our beehives (which are no longer there), in the middle of Southern France far from urban life and television. Or maybe it was a bit of influence from my father who spent his early doctoral years researching solar energy at the world’s largest solar furnace. What about my mother? She has spent her entire lifetime encouraging positive thoughts, positive comments, positive actions, or as my Zoroastrian ancestors would say “good thoughts, good words, good deeds”.

Yet, this blog has more to do with climate change, so maybe it was the time that I realized deforestation was real, so real that I couldn’t get to work one morning in Haiti as I woke up to a landslide that had devastated many of my neighbors’ homes after one night of heavy rain, and taken the life of several. A landslide of rocks and mud that was more than three miles long and at least 15 feet high, you could even stand on top of it and follow its path up the mountain to the right where the deforestation was clear, and down the mountain to the left, to realize the insignificance of homes and cars when facing the laws of nature. It was, by the way, the fourth one of the year in that neighborhood.

Although as I said, I cannot single out these experiences as reasons for me to be trying to protect our global home, or joining Second Nature as an intern for that matter. No, because I would be forgetting the amazing discussions I’ve had with religiously conservative Imams in Iran who could care less about me and my pollution concerns, or with the politically conservative Americans who’ve tried convincing me that global warming is a hoax and that they’ll gladly keep their automated water sprinklers on that water more than the actual size of their patch of lawn. I would be forgetting the regions of the world where I saw more trash on the street than concrete, black smoke coming from a cough, and 400 meter wide river beds with less than 10 meters left of shallow water in which people washed their motorcycles, their clothes, their selves, and drank from as the shortage came too quickly for anyone to find an alternative. I would be forgetting the numbers of documentaries including FLOW: For Love of Water, Wasteland, GasLand and Earthlings, which have also taken me around the world and back, making me realize how many problems we actually share in common. And I would be forgetting the hundreds of conversations with those with whom I’ve agreed and disagreed with, which have all adjusted my path in their own way.

So, when I am asked, “why do you do this?” I can’t help but ask myself “why wouldn’t I?” My work with Second Nature allows me to pursue my interests and most of all my passions. The organization’s experience and expertise have so far made it a wonderful learning experience that I hope to carry with me wherever my passion wanders off to in the future. “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony”, and so following Gandhi’s wise words, I am presently more than happy here. In the kitchen, the office, the street and the forest, I try to do what makes sense for myself and for this planet, and to me this is exactly what this lifestyle makes.