What Are We Really Made Of?
A herbalist teacher once told me to pay attention to the plants growing around me, they are often an indicator of the medicine I need.
Some years it’s the dandelions growing in abundance. This year it’s clover. My fascination with plant medicine has branched into a fascination with soil and the microbiome within it. We can’t have healthy plants without a deep respect for the soil and life within it.
It just so happens humans have a similar relationship with our own microbiome, which interestingly outnumber our human cells tenfold. Our bodies are more microbial than human. There must be a reason we are designed this way.
Let’s imagine for a moment that everything around us is a reflection of what is happening within us.
A plant grown in the wild is resilient. Its survival possible by its deep root system, creating a symbiotic relationship within the soil microbiome in order to get the nutrients it needs in exchange for the sugars and carbon the soil needs. It’s the web of life working together through connection and relationship in a diverse ecosystem.
Compare this to a plant grown dependent on synthetic fertilizer. Its life is easier than its wild counterpart. It doesn’t need to work for its nutrients but consequently its root system is shallow and underdeveloped. It’s more vulnerable to pests and disease, requiring more synthetic inputs, while the soil microbiome is left disconnected and void of biodiversity.
But it looks like it’s supposed to look so everything’s okay, on the surface at least.
We often forget that we, like the plants, are also nature. It makes me ponder with this idea of struggle and how we handle things when life isn’t easy. These are the moments we are asked to dig deeper, the moments we find out what we are truly made of.
Maybe the year of 2020 is the gift of digging deeper. It’s an opportunity to look at our addiction to living on the surface of things, how our excessive consumerism, dependancy on convenience and disconnect from the life pulsating around us can easily be substituted as the synthetic fertilizer we’ve come to depend on. It allows us to live on the surface of things.
But what if that’s not what we’re meant to be doing?
Is it a coincidence we are seeing a rise in chronic disease while also experiencing a mental health crisis? We are currently in the midst of a world pandemic that abruptly exposed the fragility of seemingly solid archaic institutions our society was built on. It’s not looking how it’s supposed to look anymore. Our addiction to living on the surface is failing us.
We were always meant to be in relationship with nature, not separate from it.
We are being asked to dig deeper, to reclaim our seat in this beautifully designed web of life, to look at where we’ve come from and choose instead to grow wild.