Get Dirt-y

“All good things are wild and free.”

---Henry David Thoreau

When was the last time you went on a hike and enjoyed the splendors of Mother nature? If you live in San Francisco like I do, my guess would be that it wasn’t that long ago. Great!

Now let me ask you a different question. When was the last time you went on a hike, enjoyed the splendors of Mother nature, and DIDN’T snapchat, instagram, or post a picture on facebook about it? Ahh..suddenly the question becomes much more difficult to answer.

Future posts on this blog will describe more of the research on grounding -physically touching earth’s surface with barefeet, the healing powers nature has on all sorts of ailments, and how the inability to recognize our place as a microcosm in the larger macrocosm can cause disease. However, this fourth practice to live (and love!) where our feet are: Get dirt-y, is about more than just getting out in nature and knowing the research. It’s about our relationship with technology and how it inhibits us from really reaping the benefits of getting our hands and feet onto earth’s surface.

Growing up, I spent most summers in a small New England town called Duxbury, Massachusetts. Our house was on a dirt lane with a shared tiny beach at the end of it. There were lush raspberry bushes on the way down to the beach where I always stopped to pick a few ripe fruits. To me, this place was (and still is) paradise. I spent the entire summer running to and from the ocean. Jumping in the water, playing on the swingset, ignoring my mom’s plea for me to wear sunscreen. I was barefoot the entire summer, and I had the calluses on my feet to prove it. I reflect on those summers as some of the best in my life, and I always come back to one reason why: I was present in nature.

That was the age before the smartphone. Before snapchat stories or instagram feeds dictated our actions. It was a time when we could actually enjoy nature and our surroundings without feeling the need to post about it. We are all guilty of posting a snapchat of an amazing view at the top of a hike to show people that we are, in fact, “outdoorsy.” It’s gotten so bad, for some of us, that we can’t actually enjoy the present moment because we are concerned about taking the perfect instagram picture that will get us the most amount of “likes.” It’s exhausting!

I believe that “all good things are wild and free,” as Henry David Thoreau believed. The most wild and free thing in this world is nature herself. So it should make sense that we, mere humans, become wild and free when we are engulfed in her presence. I fear, though, that we have turned our time in nature as time that is not wild and free. How can we be wild when we are confined by our anxiety to capture the best. possible. instagram.? How can we be free when we are worrying about whether or not we will have service at the top of the peak in order to snapchat the view? Our use of technology in nature is anything but wild and free.

So the next time you’re in a park with friends or taking a stroll through nature, I challenge you to put your phone on airplane mode. Better yet, leave it at home. Take back the present moment by taking back that special time in nature. Enjoy feeling wild and free, if only for a moment, by truly being with nature.