Sometimes I arrive in my London office with mud on my boots. For some that would be dirty or uncivilised. Us humans have paved over the world to make it safe and mud free. Bringing mud indoors makes a mess.I do tend to have a change of shoes at the office in case they are just too bad.
The mud has become a symbol for me: a peek under the pavement to the un-human-conditioned world I am made from. Think of clean paved streets as a virtual reality, a human construction on top of dirt, mud, rocks and decaying things.
I care about the mud on my boots because I care how the mud got there. My commute from suburban Brighton to Charing Cross in London begins with a twenty minute walk. A walk through woods, across a fieldy park, up past some apartments and then along a stony track beside the railway. This walk through relatively unconditioned nature helps me construct myself before the human-conditioned world of the streets, trains and city take over.
I’m learning to finesse the way that I construct myself daily. I’ve begun – as of this spring – stepping outside as almost the first act of my day, only pausing to set the kettle boiling or making
as some unconditioned ‘truth’. The radio – breakfast – dishwasher – internet – conversation – shower – shit – busyness inside doesn’t get close to this. I don’t stay outside long. It doesn’t feel that deep or special but it is compelling.
I began this once I realised that nature sits at the core for me. The deeper I look into myself, the more I contemplate motive, fear, agency and narrative there is the image of me in nature in my mind. At the beginning, me sitting in the mud in the woods. This is a beginning to take all thoughts from. A humbling, inclusive place. Me in nature.
I’m grounded with mud on my boots. I think that is the quick version.
Slightly edited December 2018.