James Pinsky: Time isn’t renewable, but our world is

James Pinsky

And, it’s 2017. Just. Like. That.

Time is our most precious resource, natural or otherwise, and ironically, we have absolutely no way to renew it – or sustain it. It is the most reliably perishable thing in the universe. Our most creative minds, our greenest thumbs and even our most frugal bean counters can’t design, grow or fund anything which can slow, stop or bring back time, at least not yet.

Sooner or later we all understand the value and scarcity of time, as it waits for no man, woman, bush or beast. As such, it seasons the taste of our laughter, smiles, heartaches, friends, families and legacies with the rarest of richness for us to savor a little more with each passing moment. Ultimately it gives those things which deserve the most attention the focus, dedication and protection they deserve because it is not these things which go away, but us.

As 2017 comes, 2016 goes – forever. As a conservationist, I think one of the secrets to having a truly sustainable natural resource program is to somehow figure out a way to project our own sense of mortality, and the inherent sense of urgency it ultimately invokes, on our even more precious natural resources. I say more valuable because, unlike us, it is our natural resources which can and should remain long after we are gone to help the next generation succeed. It was Wendell Berry who said it best when he wrote, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Regardless of how deeply conservation is rooted in our own lives, we can learn to value the very things which give us life as dearly as we do our own. If we can do this one thing, then conservation as a practice will no longer be mostly an act of convenience. It will be an absolute, which I think it ought to be. After all, unlike time, we have the opportunity to renew so many things in our natural world. We can give our children cleaner water, more trees, better soil and fresh air now. So, “should” is not good enough. We must do it.

On this New Year’s Day, I suggest we all make a resolution to do just that, to commit to giving our children and their children the natural resources they need to live as good and rich a life as we always wanted. If we don’t, then we’re going to need that time machine for a lot more than reliving memories; we’re going to need it to save the world.

If that’s the case, I hope we don’t run out of time first.

James Pinsky is the Education and Information Coordinator for the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District. Contact him at 540-465-2424 ext. 104 or james.pinsky@lfswcd.org.