Two separate events made me realize how much my thinking has changed over the years.
The first one was my recent purchase of a necklace made of coral branches. When I was young[er], I was very keen on protecting the environment, saving the whales, teaching my children about the evil of littering, etc. [When my older son was about three or four years old, he scolded a man for littering in a shopping mall and shamed him into picking up the candy wrapper he casually dropped on the ground, to the thunderous applause of the crowd who witnessed the event. For a long time, we talked about this with great pride in our family reunions.] I wouldn't eat tuna fish (because of the dolphins) or wear a fur coat or coral jewelry. Then last week, I saw this wonderful necklace made of small coral branches. The artist-jeweller, who's a very good friend of mine, explained to me how he bought a whole bunch of coral branches in the 70s, which he is using only now in his work and how it's impossible to find them anywhere today. It struck me right then and there that this coral, had it not been bought up and saved by my friend, would have disappeared a long time ago, killed by trawling fishing boats and pollution. It's the same paradox as the one presented by those antique Egyptian, Chinese, Cambodian, etc. statues or columns that were stolen by European invaders and brought back to European cities where they can still be admired and studied to this day, whereas had they been left in their respective countries of origin, they would have been destroyed by local thieves and vandals or left unprotected from the ravages of time or the political vagaries of the moment. I bought the coral necklace.
The second event happened today, during my lunch hour. I was strolling in the mini-mall next to my office where there was an exhibition-sale of butterflies and rare insects, all neatly mounted,labelled and framed. Their colours and their shapes were just gorgeous, but as I went from frame to frame, I had this uneasy and creepy feeling. I used to collect butterflies and bugs when I was a little girl and I am still irresistibly attracted to these shiny colourful wings. But now, for some reason, I look at them not from the collector's point of view, but from the collectee's perspective. I felt the same revulsion as if I were in an alien museum looking at a collection of stuffed physically perfect human beings. I didn't buy any butterfly.