I like to feel I’ve achieved something. I like those days where I feel successful, where I can measure what I’ve done, my success, my attainments. Which is great, it’s good to feel like I’ve done something with my day, but what about those days where all I’ve done is build a wooden train track only for it to be broken, picked up about 100 dinosaurs, only for the box to be tipped out again…made food, cleaned up, put washing on, only to have to repeat it all again the next day, and the next. I like the days where I can tick off my to-do list and feel satisfied but there are some days where I can’t quite work out if I’ve really accomplished anything. What if I’m missing something though, what if by being so keen to achieve, to ‘reap in the harvest’ I’ve forgotten the importance of the simple, of just ‘sowing the seed’. I heard a quote this week by Robert Louis Stevenson and it has really got me thinking.
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by seeds you plant.”
We’re quite removed from these earthy analogies; our lives have become far more sterile and distant from the soil on which we live.
Soil is more interesting than we often give it credit for. Did you know…
• There are more microorganisms in a handful of soil than there are people on earth.
• Soil is a living system.
• Soil acts as a filter for underground water, filtering out pollutants.
• Approximately 10% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions are stored in soil.
• It provides all the nutrients required for successful plant growth.
• Soil consists of 45% minerals, 25% water, 25% air & 5% organic matter for good garden soil.
• Worms enrich topsoil by feeding on organic material in the soil and converting it into nutrients for plants. As they move through the soil it becomes more absorbent and better aerated too.
• Soil is at the bottom of the food chain, yet it is the cornerstone of life on earth.*1
It seems that soil is pretty important! What’s also interesting, at least if you’re me, is that there are incredible health benefits to reconnecting with the soil. It’s called earthing and it is defined as:
Earthing (noun): The process of absorbing the earth’s free flowing electrons through the soles of ones feet.
Apparently, walking bare foot, among other things…
• Reduces inflammation
• Eases or eliminates pain
• Better Sleep
• Increases Energy
• Calms the Nervous System
• Lowers Stress
• Improves Mood
• Thins the blood and improves circulation and blood pressure
• Speeds healing and muscle repair
• Improves Glucose or Blood Sugar Regulation
• Prevents Calcium and Bone Density Loss. Reduces Indicators of Osteoporosis.
• Improves Cardiovascular function*2
Which makes sense to me. I see my boys playing in the garden, they love it, they love the mud and the mess, they love the feel of it, the creepy crawlies living in it, they love to fill containers, make potions and pies. The soil, that is the foundation of all of our villages, towns, and cities, its full of wonder and magic and mystery, especially if your 3 or 5! They also don’t have a to-do list.
I am too quick to lose the magic, its dirt, it’s mud, it’s trailed all over the kitchen floor! We, as a people have lost the magic, we’ve built homes, schools, hospitals, factories and shops, the whole of our modern day infrastructure all over it and sterilised it. We corner off little patches of it which so many of us cover in grass and put play equipment, sheds or seating on…soil is rare in our everyday experience yet it is the foundation of our very lives.
In Genesis 3, at the start of the Bible, there is a reminder of our origin and end, our connection with the soil; ‘for dust you are and to dust you will return.”….the human body is a mixture of elements, (it’s at this point that I wish I’d paid more attention in chemistry) we’re oxygen (65%), carbon (18%), hydrogen (10%), nitrogen (3%), calcium (1.5%), phosphorous (1%)..among others and those same elements are found in varying degrees in the soil on which we walk…we’re far more connected to the soil than we want to admit, not only in our make-up but also in the food we eat, even for those of us who are not vegetarians or vegans, the animals we eat also rely on the soil to provide their nutrition. Whatever you believe about the story that starts the bible, the fundamental connection to earth stands true.
So soil is essential to us yet we rarely acknowledge it unless we get it on our hands or clothes! Maybe there is something to be learnt from children, who are so quick to run barefoot outside, who naturally reconnect with the earth, who see the wonder in the dandelion seeds, the charm of the daisy and the mystery in the mud. (which by the way is the name of the crime thriller I’m working on!)
Reconnecting, earthing, grounding (whatever name we give it), reduces stress, brings healing; maybe not just because we absorb those electrons but maybe because by doing so we choose to stop being busy and instead engage with the great outdoors, instead of sitting in front of a screen in our air-conditioned environments, with artificial lighting eating processed food, comparing how busy we are and how much we’ve achieved. So maybe there is something to be learnt from a day spent playing, maybe it’s important to drop the to do list sometimes and reconnect with our own lives, whatever form that takes. Maybe getting out there and taking care of our planet actually helps us take care of ourselves in ways we never realised and that each day as we try to sow that seed of goodness, whether literally or metaphorically, we find we become more in tune with the now and less obsessed by misconstrued success. Maybe the writer of Genesis 3 knew that!
*1 quickcrop blog – January 2014
*2 betterearthing .com