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Thoughts on Home Soil
This week I have another personal essay for you - one I wrote whilst in Germany a few days ago. It's about places of origin, responsibility, and connection.
I have just returned from a long afternoon walk, on a mission to reacquaint myself with my hometown and buy some tea at the new organic supermarket as a little treat. The last two days have felt like an eternity, in the best way.
My aim when we set off from London was clear: quiet my mind, soak up some energy from the medieval stones and lime wash walls of my birthplace, and try not to think about stressful things like how to stop grinding my teeth at night, why the job hunt is proving difficult, and how to best market myself to future employers.
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I have largely succeeded, which I credit to, you guessed it… drastically cutting down screen time and other endorphin-heavy activities. It’s easier than I thought it would be, because my time here is so precious. The older I become, the more I learn to value this place, in particular because I am lucky enough to be emotionally tethered to one specific location, to have an origin story I can return to and learn from.
My visits have become rarer, interspersed with long periods of commitments and travel to new places, but I have yet to find one that nourishes my body (and dare I say, soul) as much as the place I came from. If you know what I’m talking about, you’re lucky. I’ve been thinking a lot about the people who have grown up or been forced to move away from the places that hold their stories of origin, or those whose sacred sites have been destroyed by natural disaster, conflict, or man-made forces. It sounds so empty to say “I’ve been thinking about” them, but the least we can do is put our own circumstances into perspective and feed the well of empathy in the process, ideally drawing from that well for good.
But what about those who have never seen the soil of the place their families came from, stepped foot on their ancestral land? I know this might sound overly mythical, but please don’t misunderstand my point. I just cannot imagine that being consciously or subconsciously in tune with your place of origin, your family history, having felt it in your body, doesn’t do something for your awareness of community, the endurance of spirit and the natural world, the importance of caring for your surroundings. I wouldn’t be surprised if the mass migration of people away from their home soil and towards better opportunities (of which my family is an example), however justified, has caused a quiet falling-away of internal compasses, a se
nse of responsibility for the Earth, community, and stewardship of the land.
Those who stay, those who are able to, are sometimes deeply connected to their own corner of the Earth in a way that such stewardship is a daily priority, involving an understanding of not just the significance of their own ancestral lands but its connection to the patchwork of all others. We are all responsible for the soil, water, air, plants, people that surround us. Don’t write this off as granola drivel if you don’t immediately feel it too. If you can, go and visit where you came from, free yourself from distraction and let the walls do the talking. For me, it’s been like magic.