Drop by drop: Essay Competition 2018

Aug 24, 2018

We are no more than one drop in a limitless ocean.

There is a tendency towards discrediting our actions from its future consequences. In a world with around 7,5 billion human beings it’s easy to feel small and unnoticed. What’s the point of trying our best to reduce our negative impact in the world and live in the most sustainable way possible if the other 7,499999999 billion won’t? How can 1 count, lost in so many digits?

Also to be considered is how our present discomfort always feels worse than our future one. This is the very origin of the word procrastination. And it’s also why we offer such huge resistance to implementing changes which will somehow increase our current daily effort dose, even if we are totally aware of how they will make the future smoother.

The beauty of things however, is that we’re wrong. The most insignificant act has the strength to shaping our future into a distinct scenario. You don’t believe me? Then think about it. Think about what you’re doing and all the path that lead you there today. I am a student from one of KIC InnoEnergy master programmes. I’ve heard about KIC for the first time while talking on the bus with a friend of mine, on our way to our German lessons. What if… So many alternative ways of this moment not to happen. Maybe I would have reached here in some other way. Maybe not. The goal of this introspective moment is to make you realise all actions matter and it’s impossible to predict how. Like Steve Jobs once said, “you can’t connect the dots looking forwards; you can only connect them looking backwards”. But even without knowing the consequences, we know that they will be huge.

This essay was supposed to be about one episode in which we had contributed to a change on the energy future. I often have a hard time doing so, since it’s not easy to assess and acknowledge my own impact in what surrounds me. Other than that, I am stubborn by nature (genetics, what can we do?) so I chose to make the people who find themselves in a similar situation to see how much they can do for so little. When entering a volunteer camp, we’re often warned that we won’t be able to save the world. Low your expectations, they say, for that is a process longer and bigger than ourselves. Their range of action will be limited, but still crucial. That is the role I’m trying to take as mine: to tell you we don’t need to be super heroes and fix all in a sudden. Because many small people who in many small places do many small things can alter the face of the world [1]. So let’s focus on those for a start.

I am the biggest stairs fan, low water consumptions follower, defender of natural light and recycling paranoiac that most of my friends know. And I am also the annoying friend who’s pointing them out all these things. Such simple things, right? But think about it: when was the last time you took an elevator to the second floor? How much water you’ve lost in the shower while you were waiting for it to warm up? How many times were you having classes or working with the shades down and the lights on during the day? And when was the last time you placed a coffee plastic cup in a regular bin because the recycling one was further away? It’s not about ignorance. I’ve seen these situations over and over in top universities and highly considered research centres. It’s all about mindset. It’s about not caring. It’s about not truly believing in the impact of our actions and being too lazy to change them. My friends, those moments you’re neglecting really do matter, especially when you’ll add them all up.

There are two sides to every coin. On one side, there’s the weight of responsibility for everything we do and the terrible outcome it releases, which we must carry on our shoulders. On the other, is the realization of how short the path towards lighting things up and leaving a positive footprint in this world is. It’s up to us the side we choose to focus on.

We are no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops? [2]


By Sara Vieira

Published on 24 August 2018


1. African Saying

2. David Mitchell

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