I live on an island.
See, it’s not the kind that has palm trees, white beaches and flower necklaces. My country’s better known as a concrete jungle. Think shiny buildings, grey pavements and neatly trimmed bushes. People exercise in parks, haunting malls and cafes. Everyone lives, in some way or another, a part of the city life. Us teenagers, we were born into this urban bubble.
So when I think of nature, the first things that come to mind are my city’s pretty parks and flowers. I think of our small ponds, and of climbing up a small hill, my shoes pressed against an asphalt path carved through the forest. But these are not the images I want to recall when I think of the world.
Instead, I want to paint a picture of wild greenery and uncut grass. Vast bodies of water and jungles faraway. I’d imagine less structure to this sort of thing. It’s through this untame imagery that I can feel for our climate.
My favourite memory, probably, of being closest to nature takes place when I was in kindergarten. I remember how my mother and I would wake up early on some days and approach the outskirts of a forest near a playground in my neighbourhood. She’d tilt a lush green leaf down and let its morning dew rush into my cupped hands. That cooling sensation and the tranquility of nature are things I could never forget.
Yes, I live in an urban bubble. Yet, I still have my small, personal connections to nature. Admittedly, I’d say it’s easy to forget the planet crisis at times, when I’m cushioned by my polyester pillows. But just because I’m in love with blue light, doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten blue skies. Sure, my stars burn in street lamps, but my heart remains enchanted by our land.
As I squint into the future, I see many twisting paths branching out from the present. We live in volatile times. However, if I were to compare our lives to a game that decides our future, in the end, it doesn’t really matter what kind of hand you are dealt with. What matters is how you choose to play your cards. And if we can all play them right in our own capacities, a golden route could be waiting for us.
I dream of so many possibilities in this golden route, like a world where more of us can value nature for being alive. In the small island where I live, I dream of our trends cementing in mindsets and expanding beyond metal straws. I dream of a nation where reasonable climate policies can be passed as quickly as quarantine measures. I dream of a world where urbanites can continue having moments as small and precious as a dewdrop. I dare to dream these because I know my nation is capable of realising them. The rest of the world is no different.
I’m playing with the hand I’ve been dealt with. My cards are humble, but I’m fueled with a purpose. In this specific game, as I sit on my roller chair, I play for the rainforests I may never visit, the great oceans I may never dive in, the people I may never meet. Because when I think of our crisis, I don’t just imagine our future. I feel for the Earth, my home. And that is why I shout.