Over the years, I’ve discovered that many people have an unusual love for dirt. I was reminded of this the other day on a group hike, when one man was running his fingers through the dust and pine needles on the ground as we sat in a circle. When it was his turn to introduce himself, he made sure to add: “I love to play with dirt.”
Sounds strange? Not to me. I totally got it.
As a child, I would have considered myself to be more of a water gal. I loved anything water related: swimming pools, the ocean, even bathtubs. But after years and years of hiking as an adult, I’ve discovered a deep love for something even more basic than water: dirt.
When I’ve been stuck inside for a while, I can’t help but be profoundly grateful to just get out and sit on the ground. I run my fingers over tiny rocks, dry leaves, and soil, and I feel happy. I close my eyes and access some secret magic that seems to be found in the physical land. Touching it, being close to it, breathing in its scent makes me feel closer to creation.
I love the texture, whether it’s dusty or slightly wet. I love finding soft moss on some rocks and crusty mineral deposits on others. When I sit on the earth, I feel like I’m experiencing a hidden pleasure that’s free for the taking.
I guess this shouldn’t seem strange. Man, after all, was fashioned from dust, and to the earth he shall return. The concept of “Mother Earth” is an ancient one. People have always felt a connection to the land. (And it probably helps that the land I usually run my fingers over is also my ancient homeland.)
Gardeners love their flower beds full of rich soil. Hikers love their coffee breaks on flat patches of ground to the side of the trail. My teenage daughters love to walk through mud, their feet squishing the wet earth with every step.
Dirt, mud, soil, earth whatever you want to call it – this simple substance can bring us closer to a fundamental kind of happiness. And luckily for us, it’s absolutely everywhere. All we have to do to access this connection to something deeper is go outdoors. Then sit down on the ground.