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compost happens

August 21, 2011

We have entered Virgo, when our yearly harvest is sorted, so we see what grew and flourished, but also what did not thrive and so needs to be discarded. Virgo is an Earth sign, which I’ve mostly tended to ignore in favor of Fire and Water signs. But in this time and place, I feel called to immerse myself in earthiness, so I’m going to be spending this astrological month exploring embodiment as a small piece of Gaia. Ever since I wrote about darkness on The Slacktiverse, I’ve been thinking about the darkness of dirt, and trying to imagine being someone who dwells in dirt and darkness: soil microbes, fungal mycelia, root filaments, mycorrhizae, earthworms. Most of these organisms decompose matter so its nutrients can be used again. Evolution is extravagant, and since most variations don’t work, disease, disaster, and death cull the failed experiments, freeing up resources that will eventually discover variations that succeed in their habitats.

But that’s all theory. What is it like to writhe and slither through soil, proceeding by touch? There is no light, so there cannot be vision/sight; there is only feel. (Perhaps taste and smell matter too.)

What does failure feel, taste, or smell like? How does a microbe or an earthworm know what to eat, and what to leave alone? Do they talk to each other, and pass along tips about local good (or bad) eating?

If I could converse with an earthworm, what could it tell me about my environment that I would find utterly surprising?

One thing we would agree on is that failure and death seed innovation. So, metaphorically, if I’m trying a bunch of things, and they are all working, I’m not necessarily learning deep lessons. In fact, the more that things work, the more married I am to the status quo, which stifles innovation and experimentation, because I have a lot more to lose. On the other hand, when I’m trying a bunch of stuff and most of it isn’t working, paradoxically, the field of possibility broadens.

In the last year, I have tried a multitude of things, and many if not most did not work the way I hoped. However, because of those failures, I have much more information about things I would’ve not previously even dreamed of attempting. My horizons are broader, or deeper.

I’m no longer reserving great swaths of emotional energy for familial relationships (most of which probably never really existed outside of my head anyway), which means I now have emotional energy available for relationships of choice.

I’m no longer taking leftovers, then wondering why I feel so angry and resentful. I’ve learned to be much choosier at the beginning of associations, assessing my own needs and then factoring them into the mix of what I’m looking for. If things still don’t work out, I walk away, older and wiser.

So this month I want to be more aware of ideas, behaviors, and expectations that need composting.

I also plan to focus on feeling things, physically, but also emotionally. Knowing through touch. Replenishing my right brain with imagery, sensations, and experiences. Maybe in time these will be seeds of poetry, prose, or other art forms.

Darkness approaches. I’m ready to meet it.

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