As summer approaches and the snow from winter is finally melting, I think about what a strange thing it is to be a human in this world.
We live in houses, drive cars or bikes, go to work, play on phones, watch TV, and spend much of our time completely detached from the natural world. Sure, it’s there. In the same way the sun is there so we put on sunscreen, or the same way our food is in a store so we buy it and consume it. It’s ever-present, though often a burden. Something to be managed, tamed, or ignored.
Rainy day? Take the car to the shop instead of walk. Don’t forget to bring your brelly!
Blustery fall? Hurry from one safe building to the next to keep out of the wind.
Snow? Spend time inside where it’s warm and safe.
Even in the inviting beauty of summer we must manage our world. Sunscreen, hats, gazebos. Days on the beach spent playing games or drinking. I’m guilty of this myself, because I get heat stroke really easily. You’ll rarely see me without a hat on my head, or in the direct sunshine.
But I worry about what my body wants, what it would chose for me if it didn’t have my mind to order it around.
When I put my feet on the earth, feel grass between my toes, I am reminded of who I am.
When I close my eyes and listen to the sound of wind in the trees, I am reminded of who I am supposed to be.
If I hide in the shade from the sun, trying to manage my bodies distaste for the heat, I think about what it would be like if I had to spend all day out there, like my ancestors did. Does my skin miss the sunshine, without any lotions to guard it? Would I have adapted better by now if I wasn’t so careful?
And what of the rest of me? What would our bodies chose for us if they could?
I think mine would prefer I didn’t wear clothes, or live inside. It wants me to be in the forest, where the air and the sunshine are. It wants me to be in the water, where the fish and the dirt is.
So I try to listen to it, in whatever small ways I can.
When I walk around outdoors I always kick off my shoes, if I even bothered to put them on in the first place. Friends and family tease me for having dirty feet half the year. Though I shower every day, by June the soles of my feet are stained brown and green from running through the soil.
And every time I stop to feel the world beneath my feet, let my toes get muddy, I wonder what they would chose for me if they got to decide what happens with us. I think they’d appreciate being so close to nature, where they belong. In fact, I think my feet miss the earth, and together we share a secret: My heart misses it too.