Happy Earth Day from Lifekind

“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, Rejoice, for your soul is alive.”
Eleanora Duse

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I’m writing this post on John Muir’s birthday, April 21. The pioneering Scottish-American preservationist would have been 178 years old today. I’ve loved Muir since the third grade, when I first read My First Summer in the Sierra, the journal he kept as he accompanied a flock of sheep from California’s San Joaquin Valley to the Yosemite high country in 1869 as a young wanderer.

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Around this time each year, people try to put into words the feeling they have for the Earth, our terrestrial home. For those who feel deep connection to nature, that can be intimidating!

Muir was equal to the challenge. In Summer, as the group moved slowly from the heat of the Valley to their destination in the High Sierra near Tuolumne Meadows, he became entranced by what he saw and felt:

“Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.”

I know that feeling — maybe you do, too. The suspension of time, a sense of oneness, kinship with everything, the joy of being truly home. I just can’t describe it the way he could!

Freedom and immortality can be real and concrete on a day spent in nature, rooted in things we can touch and hear. Muir was in the Sierra, but it can happen anywhere — mountains, valley, ocean, or a park in the heart of a city. The natural world can inhabit us, and we it:

“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. Our flesh-and-bone tabernacle seems transparent as glass to the beauty about us, as if truly an inseparable part of it, thrilling with the air and trees, streams and rocks, in the waves of the sun,—a part of all nature, neither old nor young, sick nor well, but immortal.”

Muir believed that everything in the natural world is beautiful in its own wild, original state. Landscapes spoke to him, along with plants and insects, rocks and storms and trees and “flower people” — recognition of the kinship we all share.

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Sometime soon, along with all the things large and small that we do to try to be kind to our planet, try to go to the wildest place you can find. Even if only for a little while. And savor the feeling:

“Beauty beyond thought everywhere, beneath, above, made and being made forever.”

Made and being made forever — everywhere. That’s our planet, our home. It’s beautiful.

 

(All photos: public domain)

A Nod to Earth, Mother of Us All

This is about how WE are all in it together. How every action leads to reaction. It’s about balance and responsibility. And grounding.

On a physical level – if we break down human needs – food, sleep and shelter are at the top of the list. Take care of those needs, add some love, hard work and fun, and life is good. In the West we place a great deal of value on shelter, and food is pretty important, but we may take sleep for granted.

While we go about our days fulfilling our needs we’re reminded of the needs of homeless people in our community or starving children in Fallujah, and the ominous climate change that will undoubtedly slash a new path for future generations (whatever that looks like). And we go, “What in the world can I do about all this!?”

Source: Public Domain
Source: Public Domain

We look to the stars for advice, pray to the gods above, and may even take part in solutions first-hand. But what I’m asking you to do is quite unconventional: get down and dirty. Go outside, find some dirt, sand, or grass, and take off your shoes and socks.

What you are doing is called earthing, or grounding. It feels good. You are literally connecting to the Earth (a very big thing) without the barrier of man-made, synthetic, energy-blocking materials holding you at a distance. You’re experiencing the benefits of contact with a vast supply of free electrons that have been found to reduce pain and improve sleep!

Picture the dirt below you under a microscope, teaming with life! One scoop of dirt contains as many microorganisms as there are people on the planet. So, there you are touching millions of life forms with your bare skin. Now picture the web of life that flows beyond you, through the soil, roots, and water, and you are connected energetically and physically to the rest of the planet. Nice. Now is also a good time to deepen your spiritual connection and pray, commune with Nature, or simply worship the dirt we all walk on.

Source: Wikimedia
Source: Wikimedia

Why is dirt so important here? It is earth, which is exactly everything to us. Our planet is called Earth. We grow our food in earth. We build our houses from trees grown in earth. Our water is filtered through earth, and protected by earth. We are Earthlings.

Affecting climate change is about sequestering more carbon than we are losing, keeping it in the earth. We hear about the problems causing high levels of carbon loss, like deforestation and extracting and burning fossil fuels. When you dump a load of pesticide on a crop, it kills the beneficial microbes in the soil. Do that season after season, scraping and tilling in between, and the poor soil struggles to bear any life at all, holds less moisture and erodes. So synthetic fertilizers are added to replace nutrients that could have been there all along if the land had been managed organically.

Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

We shouldn’t be eating food, clothing our bodies, or outfitting our homes with goods grown in dead soil. And petrochemical-based plastics are obviously not the answer for a healthy future. Let’s start conversations about solutions.

How do we build healthy soil to sequester carbon while doing our daily life? Learn about permaculture and spread the word. Think about it like this: permanent + culture = permaculture. It’s a design for living, really. A permaculture perspective is to study the elements in nature and use the power and cycles of sun, weather, and biology to benefit life, not damage it. Permaculture principles can be used on a small scale – at your home – or on a massive scale, the way Nature intended and already manages life on Earth by itself.

Source: Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia

A “food forest” is a good example of permaculture principles used to grow food while building living soil that regenerates itself, and the air we breathe in return. We’re quickly moving beyond the need for global sustainable agriculture because of the spike in greenhouse-gas levels. To sustain current levels is not enough. What we need now is regenerative agriculture, in which we build healthy soil everywhere we grow by keeping deadly chemicals out and using Earth’s biology first, sequestering carbon in the earth faster than we can burn it up.

No matter how you look at it, Earth is quite awe-inspiring. She will outlast humans in a blink. We need to learn how to support and respect her great power while caring for ourselves.