Enjoying Complexity


As I live my daily life, I do not often think about what the land provides for me or how important and complex the land is beneath my feet.  When I thought about the beauty of the earth before this course, I had a picture of a romanticized fantasy.  For instance, I love watching Planet Earth and the beautiful images they captured on film.  However, this experience of the earth is through a television screen – I am not actually touching the land as we did during class.  I feel like I have grown up with an appreciation for food (from the art of preparing it, to the act of enjoying what I made), yet I am still ignorant.  My food growing knowledge is limited to volunteering at the college farm and my mother’s small garden, much like my restricted view of nature through a TV screen.  In general, I do not grow my own food – it is packaged and shipped to my nearest market.  By not hunting and growing food for ourselves (ourselves, meaning the majority of the people living in “developed” nations), we have lost that true connection with the land, and thus the true appreciation and understanding of its complexities.

When I lay on the ground, observing the soil from that level, I started to re-learn to appreciate nature for its complexity – I was physically seeing the extent of the grass system and witnessing the intricacy of the soil.  What we value in life, like food and beautiful landscapes, originate from the soil.  This realization gives me a sense of awe towards the earth’s system – something that appears so simple can be the base of all life.  The association of dirt and soil with negative conations comes from an uneven balance of knowledge about the earth.  The beauty of soil comes from what it can support, what it is composed of, how it is made – not what can we get from the soil.

The complexity of the earth’s systems is much like the complexity of the human body.  Once I let go of the social constructed views of a body (male or female) that cloud my eyes, I can see the beauty of its complexity.  I think about the digestive system (as we read and discussed from The Sacred Balance by David Suzuki) and how my hormones and emotions effect my every moment…. And more interestingly, how most of these simple complexities are shared globally :) I love to be reminded that I am not only connected to the land, but also to the people around me.

I may have known or understood these concepts in the back of my mind, but bringing them to the forefront of my mind affects my daily thoughts.  Soil and my connections with it and the land is not just something to wash off at the end of the day – it is the source of all life (inanimate and animate – including mine!), it is growth, it is fertile, it is productive, it is nourishing, it is home – every day of my life.

Sunset at the Dickinson College Farm (Courtesy of Alex Smith)

Rebecca Yahiel

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  1. #1 by ctighe on December 4, 2010 - 3:05 am

    Want to think of something even weirder? Breanna, I know you mentioned that it helps to move away from the individual considerations, but…if plants are earth, and soil/dirt/mud is earth, and animals are earth, and the forest and the seas and oceans and little bacterium are earth…then WE ARE EARTH, TOO. I AM EARTH! How strange to think of it that way.

  2. #2 by ryahiel on November 10, 2010 - 4:21 am

    Just like any individual, there is no one characteristic that defines the earth and all its facets. Appreciating all those characteristics and qualities, though not necessarily always liking them, is part of understanding the world. You see and understand those characteristics for what they are – taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture always centers me and allows me to move forward and/or be content, depending on the situation.

  3. #3 by Breanna Marr on October 14, 2010 - 3:28 pm

    I love that you pointed out that your earlier thoughts of nature were “romanticized.” I know that mine certainly were, back before I actually thought critically about nature, with or without the capital “N.” You’re right… There is more to our planet home than just the breathtaking images shown in a Thomas Cole paining and the Discovery Channel’s “Planet Earth.” Rotting carcasses, those gnats that fly into the corners of your eyes when you’re outside at dusk, and the AIDS virus are all part of nature, too It’s hard, then, to value nature holistically, isn’t it? I have to take a step back and try to focus on valuing cycles rather than those individual (and possibly unpleasant) pieces of our natural world. I’m not sure that this is the best solution. How do you move beyond this conundrum?

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