We are edible
Please feel free to place your hands in the soil or to lift it up the soil and smell it, this may sound strange but it also might make sense, only time will tell.
There is a difference between dirt and soil. Dirt is dead, Soil is full of death. A small but important distinction. When I was a kid in the 80’s, I didn’t know any distinction, and I saw all soil and dirt as the same - something I ran on, something that was ‘on the ground’. Soil was dirty, and I wasn’t allowed to get too dirty.
But my children are constantly dirty, and they mostly don’t wear shoes. Their bodies touch the soil as much as they can, allowing the electrons from their bodies to be exchanged with the electrons in the earth. My hands are in the soil every day, and if they aren’t I miss my high. I miss bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, that when I inhale them triggers serotonin to be released in my brain. I miss my daily dose of death and life.
Soil reveals what is perhaps the most beautiful paradox on earth - that which dies transforms into that which sustains life. Even us, our bodies will transform, becoming edible by the billions of microbes in the soil.
It is amazing to me just how my thoughts on soil have changed. But I can’t say it was solely my own doing, it was certainly part of a national - if not a global conversation - of the importance of soil that inspired my attitude shift. I didn’t realise that soil was not infinite, that it took thousands of years to make, but could be gone in a flash in a fire or a flood.
In the last ten years so many of my beliefs have changed. The most powerful one being my relationships with nature. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved nature, but I had different ideas on what nature was. It was forests and meadows and coast lines. It was pristine wilderness that I enjoyed while camping. I now see that nature is everything. It is the ant crawling on my foot and the weed pushing through the pavement. Nature is life wherever it emerges, dependent on so much interconnection, and in this web is also me. I am nature, I share 50% of my DNA with trees.
As my beliefs in human exceptionalism died, it transformed into a sense of belonging that now sustains me. Death can be a gift because it gives way for life. If we think about it every out breath we have is a little death as my body sheds part of its carbon substance as CO2. I am an organism dying all of the time, living all the time, and making my way towards my eventual edible end.
The Hidden Life of Trees Wohlleben