“A million tiny things, a million tiny things, a million tiny things, breathe…” --a fitting mantra during that period of maximum chaos known as mothering small children, when any one big thing seems not just unlikely but impossible. A life littered with tiny pieces that belong with those other matching tiny pieces, which...oh, sh**t, where did I put those, anyway? And while I'm at it, where did I put that amateur ecologist I used to be before I was drowning in my diaper pail? Wasn’t she going to do some really big thing, you know, like save the planet?
When the third kid arrived, it tipped my scale so far that the dial spun up from “getting by” to “complete dysfunction.” Suddenly, my maternal drive to “green” our life seemed hindered by my complete inability to achieve just about anything beyond minimal hygiene and basic nutrition. The most I could hope for on most days was that doing some tiny thing would make a difference because, I hoped, millions of other people were also out there doing other tiny things, and they would all add up. After all, the bad things have added up into massive planetary destruction, so why not the good? As I hung out the wash, the "million tiny things" mantra became my lifeline to hope.
So, completely and totally overwhelmed, what was I to do? Well, I, um… this is kind of embarassing, since I was claiming at the time that I didn't have even a minute to think... I wrote a book about how eco-overwhelmed I was. And how I was trying to get less overwhelmed so I could save the earth. And how hard it is to do that, but how important it is to keep trying, if only to keep ourselves from pushing all the dustbunnies and stray legos and abandoned art projects and dirty clothes into a giant pile and hiding under it until the kids grow up.