Looking down for answers

how a change of perspective may save us

Photo by Clément Falize on Unsplash

Crawling though life as a toddler we start to realise we need to be looking up for attention from those who supply us with food. It’s probably one of the main reasons we decide to get up and walk at some point during our first year on earth. As parents we brag about how soon our little ones do so or find excuses why they take a little longer. This approach continues in different ways the rest of our lives. Quick development and adaptation is the key to success as we move into our first job, aspire for that promotion, with the new title and the corresponding salary.

It usually takes a few years to realise that there is always something or someone to look up to for food, be it more indirectly. The only way is up. Our societies are built on hierarchies on all levels. We look up to the politicians and the experts to solve our problems and come up with solutions. 

Ideas are powerful but take time to change. A good example of this is the conventional wisdom and standard practice of “improving” soil by tearing through it with spade, fork and plough. It seems the most counterintuitive approach imaginable. I remember learning at school about the Great Dust Bowl in the American Midwest as if it where a natural disaster. Apparently, not a single teacher had the understanding to explain why this had happened or our generation would have grown up with different ideas. Instead, according to trusted sources, half the topsoil has been lost over the last 150 years.

A handful of soil holds more than 50 billion life forms. This alone is a reason to Kiss the Ground, tread lightly and stay down to earth. Just imagine that whilst all this time we have been looking at the stars and planets with awe and curiosity we have almost forgotten that the soil is our survival our Pachamama, our teacher and our home. 

To be frank, I’m not a great fan of numbers and statistics -my report card serves to proof it- but more importantly we know they may be manipulated from all sides of the argument. Instead I ask you to do something really simple: open your eyes. Look at the ground when you are walking through your garden/to the supermarket/to work/to school. Some of you may say: But I live in the city! Even more reason to look at the ground and try to imagine the earth with its billions of life forms suffocating beneath the concrete and the tarmac and understand why heavy rainfall causes floods with so little living earth left to absorb the water. Leaving people homeless, hungry and desperate. Meanwhile we are all looking up for solutions and answers.

How great is our amazement when we see a flower growing in between the tiles by the bus stop! She is reminding us of life. Of what is possible. Look down. There is so much to discover. 

I had an insight this morning as I was taking care of our lettuce and onions: Maybe this will be a new era of looking down. Bowing our heads to the mystery under our feet. Taking the time to observe what needs to be done and respecting the time that different life forms need to grow. Let’s let our children crawl as long as possible whilst we find ways to grow by going deeper, rather than higher.

True wisdom is found in the earth and our happy, natural state, is staying close to it.