What in the world?
Last week I walked my dog down the street to the corner and back. When I got home, I could remember little to nothing about the time. I know I was there; Buster didn’t walk himself. Were there flowers? Cats? People? Good things to smell? I know instinctively that the dog was completely attentive to his world. Where was I?
Years ago, a colleague told me that our bodies’ magnetic sequences are awry because, between shoes and concrete, we don’t spend any/enough time with our feet on the ground to pick up the magnetism of the earth. I can’t scientifically corroborate this claim, but it seems true to me. I feel out of touch with nature, sitting at my desk at two screens even when I know that the smell of dirt causes the same chemical brain response as does morphine.
I connect this to my own mindlessness, my lack of mindful attention. My head is occupied with so many complicated and conflicted feelings. The planning and ending and feeling out of sync with those around me is heavy, hard, and good.
But let’s make it about hope. The earth is moving, changing, calling, offering us shelter, energy, love. Can we see it and accept the gift? Do our hearts rise when we see this gratuitous backdrop to our lives?
bell hooks says that the way we relate to land is the way we relate to humans. I take this seriously. If I completely miss the land, forget to see it, ignore, and use it, then I may do this to people too, walking past them while a million miles away, forgetting to search for their eyes or smile.
I, for one, would like to do better. To acknowledge land as the ground I live and depend on, to pay attention, noticing her moods and efforts to relate to me.
Do you remember marveling, as the pandemic took hold and the whole world stayed home, at the reduction of smog and the clarity of the earth’s atmosphere, the bird song in the morning, the coming of spring as we waited for news? The hope was real. And now, one year later, do you see what is going on around us? Two squirrels chase each other up a tree. Daffodils bloom behind a bush and on the way to the office. Buds appear and open. The sun shines. Trees wait for their moment to burst into leaf. And us? We leave our phones on the desk and emerge into the world to see what awaits us there. We might take off our shoes, eat with a friend. We open our eyes and minds and hearts to see, hear, and feel. Because we can.
Let’s do it.