“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” --John Muir
Even if you were a city kid, chances are that at some point, as a child, you played in the dirt. Maybe you made mud pies, or dug for hidden treasures. Maybe, if you were a science nerd like me, you commandeered your brother into helping you create a mini earthen volcano whose explosion wiped out a carefully staged village of Star Wars and GI Joe figures.
Whatever you did, there are certain things you remember: How if you dig down the earth is cool even in summer. How worms make a home in a subterranean world bereft of sun but populated with all sorts of fantastical creatures and crawly wonders. How weird it is that dirt is, well, where the word “dirty” comes from, but something about it on our hands feels so right and pure.
We used to play in the dirt. We used to experience the cool and the odd and the pure.
Why did we stop?
Maybe it’s because they have special homes for people who make mud pies in their forties. Maybe it’s that, in between work and house and family we don’t have time to dig for magical rocks. Maybe it’s that we’re too busy building careers to build volcanoes.
Whatever the reason, when it comes to the natural world, all too often our interaction with it is about containment rather than enjoyment: mowing lawns, killing “weeds” (who decides what a weed is, anyway?), covering up green grass with grey cement. We ignore the dirt, and go straight to our grown-up mission to abolish the dirty, the unkempt, the wild.
Nature isn’t neat. But it’s the stuff of life; we all come from it, and we’re all going back to it, so why exert so much effort in between trying to erase the connection?
Spending time with nature opens up a world of goodness to us. The wisdom of our childhood selves comes to the fore again, and we’re able to revel in wonder and feel ourselves part of an even wider family--one that includes fantastical creatures and crawly wonders.
Spending time in nature has actually been shown to be therapeutic--the Japanese even have a word for being mindfully present in a forest: shinrin-yoku means “forest bathing,” and it’s a scientifically proven form of eco-therapy.
Whether you walk in a forest, on a beach, through a mountain pass, or through your neighborhood park, we invite you to join us this month in a conversation about how our connection to nature is essential to our well-being and happiness. Stay tuned for tips, fun facts, and inspiration--and don’t forget to share your own stories, ideas, and tips with us by tagging us at #chronicwellness and #cwquakertown.