Adapt or Die


Adapt or Die

If we don’t adapt to our environment, whether this is geographical, political or socially speaking – we won’t necessarily die physically; but what is almost certain, is that we will die to such important issues as opportunity, excitement, discovery, fun and I’m sure you could think of many more.

My partner and I, for a number of good reasons, plan our year –end holidays, at least ten months in advance.

This year’s holiday to Cape Town was no exception.

We contacted friends and family in January last year to make arrangements for accommodation, even though we would only arrive in December. These souls always open their homes to us at that time of the year and this is a big help with our holiday costs.

What no one realized was that we would arrive in the midst of the worst drought in living memory, for that part of our country.

Capetonians in general, but especially politicians, had swords drawn in the blame game, accusing mayoral personnel of total incompetence in handling a situation, whose arrival, had been long forewarned.

Draconian water restrictions (out of necessity) were instituted in a ‘too little to late’ effort to stave off an inevitable ‘dry taps’ result.

A Canadian publication described the situation as “The first City in the World to ever run out of water”.

By contrast, the great Australian drought was handled in a very much more proactive manner and stands as an example of how innovative and community conscious people can quickly adapt to change in weather cycles.  At the end of it all they could even offer useful information to other global residents, who may face similar catastrophes.

Our take on the position, when we arrived in Cape Town at the start of our holiday, was something of a quiet shock! We had heard of the situation in the news, but failed to fully appreciate its effects.

Cape Town, at this time of the year is hot (30 degree-ish Celsius and there is NO rain. Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate, with rain falling in winter – unlike the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa).

From a human perspective, it was clammy and sweaty. Whilst this weather condition is normal for December, what we had never expected was to be restricted to a household water allocation of 350 liters of water (approximately 90 odd gallons US) per household per day!

Let me explain this in real terms. In the first household, there were four of us adults; this meant, to be sensible about the state of affairs, you limit showering to once every two days (not like previous holidays where we had no less than two showers a day). From a lavatory perspective, you walked around most of the day with your legs crossed, but when you had to pee, you did not flush the cistern. When it came to a movement, you took a bucket of grey water into the lavatory for flushing purposes (For the less initiated, ‘grey water’ is that which comes from water used to wash dishes, showering and laundry. This grey water is collected from your dishwasher and shower outlet, pumped into a storage container and  dish washing must be done in a smaller container, resting in your sink).

Our hosts are folks with great initiative and a strong sense of community. This meant that they had piping all over their back garden; coming from washing machine, shower, dish wash waste and finally, water harvested from roof gutters.

Our next host, also forward thinking, community conscious people, had 5,000 lt. (over 1,000 Gal. US) harvested water (from roof gutters) storage and as they are on the inland side of the mountain range, which sees a very drought water tanksmall amount of rainfall, even in the ‘dry season’, the effects of water restriction did not have the same impact as those of the first household. In addition to this they had access to ‘ground water’ from a well.

Notwithstanding, they too were in the process of setting up piping for grey water. Their view is to adapt to changing conditions.

I have a principle and I call it my, “Finger-in-the-Dyke” principle.

Let me explain: If I am walking along the water’s edge and I see a hole in the dyke, I take action, by putting my finger into the hole to avoid immediate disaster and then I look around for someone to take my place, whilst I search for others, more qualified, to set up a long term solution.

In my life I address all problems like this: I take immediate short-term action to overcome the problem and then I explore for long term solution.

You could refer to my principle as adaption. In other words, I adapt to every challenge or change in my life. Practising this principle, I end up most times, with interesting opportunities, pleasant surprises and very often, excitement too!

Maybe adapting at every step in your life will seriously decrease your daily stress load and thereby save you from premature death; what do you think, is it worth a try?

The cherry on the top is: You’ll have much more fun doing so!

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