Let me say first of all, I just about barely know who Rick Stein is. A quick google search tells me he is a fairly well known celebrity chef- I didn’t check if American or British or other. For the purpose of this post: not important. Anyway, this gentleman here:
So how do I get to him? Indirectly via cable tv, which generally tends to give us precisely nothing intetesting to watch. Skipping through the hundreds of channels the other day, I come across what could have been a National Geographic documentary- except the channel is named ‘Food‘ something-or-other, and the elderly gentleman is not Attenborough.
The scene is idyllic: lush greenery everywhere as Stein himself and his local guide, a young man who is steering the boat, are quietly gliding through a mangrove forest.
They are having an exchange about the endagered state of the forest, and about the work the guide and his colleagues are doing to try and bring some attention to the problem of conservation. At which point Stein asks: ‘Why is it important to protect them?‘. I am slightly taken aback by the question, which is borderline pointless, but even more by the utter calm of the guide as he answers, without batting an eyelid: ‘Because it is my moral duty, and my spiritual duty. This place is a temple.’
Moral, and spiritual. Nailed it.
No faffing on and on about ecosystems, biodiversity, cultural implications, political, social, etc. etc. as us westerners no doubt would have, verbalising our intentions to oblivion application-form style, to tick every possible box.
A moral, and a spiritual duty– which, as it happens, are the two most profound and most important reasons to do anything. It was such a simple yet powerful image, such a committed dedication of love to the natural environment this person was from.
Because I originally got into recording as a means to reproducing and preserving the sounds of the location (in Italy) where I am from, this spoke particularly loudly to me. It brought me back to that original spark, the why I started: that budding, perhaps even naive, sense of moral and spiritual duty to preserve sounds that are endangered, and pass them on.
While I no longer just record sounds of Basilicata or natural sounds, that sense of commitment is still strong and active in me, and both those issues and subjects I am very happy to return to whenever the occasion calls for it. It was beautiful to be reminded in such a serendipitous way, in between the wasteland of repeats and the channels you’d never watch.