Word Muse: Dirt vs. Dirty

by Tina Reeble, Education Specialist, 
Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and Nature Explore

I’m going to let you in on a “dirty” little secret. I hate getting Dirt under my fingernails! I can’t really decide why that is, but there is something on a visceral level that makes my nose crinkle in minor disgust. I ponder how I got to be this way because some of my best childhood memories are of me crawling around in a larger than life drainage ditch at the edge of wooded area near my house. My brothers and I, along with a varied assortment of neighborhood children, excavated dirt as if it were gold. During that time, digging in dirt, mud and clay, we were archeologists, pioneers, explorers, engineers, artists, and architects. Ah, the good old days.

During a recent presentation, I heard Andrea Faber Taylor, PhD suggest that our country needs to “overcome our obsession with cleanliness” because it is one of the contributing factors to the decreasing amount of time children and families are spending time connecting with nature. She’s not the first person I have heard this from and I think she’s right. For me personally, I have learned that my initial reaction to my dirty fingers only lasts an instant. And if I’m in the right frame of mind, I find that I actually love dirt! Even sitting here at my computer, far removed in time and place from my last handful of rich, fertile soil, I can recall the luxurious feel and smell that I can only describe as, well, “earthy”.  Add to that the extraordinary life-giving role that dirt has and the magic qualities it takes on when a bit of water is mixed in, it’s no wonder I think dirt is wonder-full.

So, it’s all about my mind set really. As a child, I lived in that state of mind that did not question, doubt, scold or discourage my desire to “dig in”. It is different now that I am an adult. I have to be more deliberate and intentional about it, but I can do it. I can forget about being “dirty” and enjoy just being with the dirt. And boy, when I do, it is food for my soul. I think I might even find a way to dig some dirt today. How about you?

Our next word is Newness.

Be bold, choose to be extraordinary and I will see you next week.