Make suffering your best lesson

When you love something with your heart, you always have to learn to deal with the fear of losing it. That strong connection once established doesn’t come cheap, you pay a high emotional price. I remember myself as a child reading books about endangered animals like the black vulture, the monk seal, the bearded vulture or the Iberian lynx. The last pages of those books were accompanied by invitations to help, you could see pictures of people working for their conservation. I was lost in my imagination then, dreaming that I was also one of them and dedicated myself body and soul to protecting these wonderful creatures. I also remember the helplessness I felt on many occasions, my fear that they would disappear and be forgotten, that I would not have had time to recognize their greatness as it should. As a result of the accumulation of these readings, I wrote a letter to the president asking him to please work hard to prevent their extinction, to do everything possible to prevent it.

It wasn’t just the disappearance of the species that obsessed me. “An uncomfortable truth” from Al Gore brought me closer to the loss of life and the threats to our planet. One day in the middle of a natural science class, it occurred to me to ask the teacher if polar bears were going extinct because of climate change. I was disappointed when not only did none of my classmates but also my teacher had any knowledge on the subject. I went home that day with another reason for teasing my classmates – “to save the polar bears” – along with the embarrassing thought of whether there was anything wrong with me for caring and being interested in these things.

The strength and passion I have right now for nature conservation has been partly the result of sowing painful experiences along the way. I feel nothing but gratitude towards all of them, for they have led me to be who I am. That little girl who suffered from the extinction of species is still very much alive in me, still suffering. But I have learned to turn that fear into action. I owe it to her and to everything that is important to me in life.

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