Tim’s Tales: A story worth telling

Tim’s Tales: A story worth telling

He is also raising money for the World Wildlife Fund, doing a 100-mile sponsored walk over the month of March.

He’s already completed that distance, and the month isn’t over yet! His target amount has already also been reached, but he will continue because he hopes to raise more.

And so Saturday morning was time well spent, litter picking in Mylo’s company, along with his mum and supporters of Friends of the River Tyne, who had organised the event.

There was one particular moment I remember from that morning. Mylo had spotted a plastic bottle lodged on the banks of the river. It was in a tricky spot to retrieve, but he was determined to get it. He didn’t want it to float down the river and eventually to the sea.

He leant over precariously, trying unsuccessfully to reach it. It seemed out of reach. But he didn’t give up.

Finally, he found a position that allowed him to grab the bottle with his litter picker. He then triumphantly put it into the bag held by his mum.

In some ways, it was a simple, even unremarkable, moment.

But in watching it, I felt it had such a powerful symbolism. So later, I asked Mylo’s mum if she would be happy if I asked for Mylo’s permission to write about it. She replied she hadn’t realised it would be worthy of a story in the newspaper.

I understood what she meant. I mean “young boy picks litter from a river bank” is hardly a headline that will sell newspapers, is it?

But perhaps that’s part of the problem we have made for ourselves. We are often fed a constant diet of negative, and sometimes disturbing, news; so much so that it has almost defined what we expect news to be.

I’m not saying we should ignore bad or distressing news; we need to be aware and conscious of what’s going on in the world in order to make a positive difference.

But our representation of the world seems out of balance. Individual acts of kindness and care, for other people or for the environment, are not considered as newsworthy as individual acts of cruelty, violence or abuse.

So we get a skewed vision of our world and of humanity.

As a result, we can get overwhelmed by all the negative news, the cruelty, the apathy, the intolerance and the hatred which seems to jump at us as soon as we access social media or the news.

This can lead to a feeling of disempowerment, which makes us feel we can’t change things, that we individually are too small to make any real difference. This in turn can cause apathy and cynicism.

I know we can’t fill our newspapers and news channels with only reports of kind acts or care, or with only good and uplifting news. But a greater emphasis on such things would change the way we see their impact.

That is why I think Mylo’s determination to reach that bottle is worth a story.

For me, it encapsulated the sense of empowerment and hope that is the seed of change, that someone so young was so committed to do something, because he believed his contribution mattered, as the others on the litter pick did as well.

I’m not suggesting that the act of picking litter from a river bank will, in itself, change the world. But what it represents could do so: environmental consciousness. I know there are many Mylos out there doing their bit. But we need more to tip the balance. Imagine the difference a million Mylos could make, or 10 million!

Fundamental difference will come when those in power, both economically and politically, are compelled to change.

But that change will come about when enough people come together and work for it, by being the voice for that change, and in acting it personally.

Just as Mylo does.

The future is his, not mine. Although he’s young, he understood what he did that Saturday morning was an investment in that future, not just for himself but for the natural world which he feels so connected to.

This connection has been nurtured by his mum, who I believe deserves the final word.

“It’s hard to hope and dream sometimes, but if at this young age they get a feeling that even they can make a difference, no matter how small, then we can create a lot of hope for the future of this world.”

That is a story worth telling.

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East Lothian Courier
Tim Porteus

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