Tis the season for fungi. Yup. I’m thinking about soil, fungus, and compost in these cold fall days. The gifts of the fungi… it’s kind of like the gift of the magi only a little different. 😉
I’ve been sick with some kind of cold virus that was carried home from school, and it knocked me out. So, I’ve been lying in bed thinking a lot more than I usually give myself the time to do. In the worst days of this sickness when I was hacking up a lung and asking for some higher power to rescue me, I kept thinking about something a dear mama friend had just shared with me.
She was telling me about a total sh*t-storm of a day she’d had. And how her son was taking out all his frustration and anxieties on her. She told me about the fight they had and how she felt horrible. And then when she circled back to talk through what had happened with her son, she told him that they both needed to give all that yuck to the earth – that she actually needs it and wants it. It’s what she uses for making the richness for all the good stuff to grow. So instead of dumping the yuck on her, she told her son to give it to the earth.
<BTW – Kudos to my mama friend for circling back, and this wise bit of advice.>
So, as I was laying there in my dark days of sickness, I kept imagining all the sickness leaving my body and going down into the earth. I imagined how the fungal networks would pick up on it first (as they are the most connected), and start sending the word out to all the decomposers. “Hey friends, there’s some new yuck to break down.” The decomposers would get to work on it and start mining it for the richness that could be used for the greater good. And again, the fungal network would come in and help distribute the broken-down goods to those that need it most. Bit by bit, that yuck that had been my struggle would be repurposed into nourishment.
It’s the gifts of the fungi.
They are more like us than plants, actually (though fungi were classified as plants until 1969). Fungi breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. They also need to eat food from an outside source. They can’t make their own food like plants. But what makes them so fascinatingly similar to us is their life’s purpose. Their passion is to facilitate, connect, and reappropriate energy. They are the earth’s executive assistants. They are the wood wide web – connecting resources with needs for millennia. And we above-grounders forget just how much we can learn from them.
We forget that we can lean on the fungi too, like my sweet friend reminder her son. We need to give our yuck to the fungi to process and redistribute. The fungus doesn’t try to carry it all herself. Instead, she knows her community and leans on them. She connects resources with needs. And she sees that one woman’s trash is another’s treasure. Nothing is gone to waste.
I have a beautiful piece of artwork by the amazing Molly Costello over my desk. In it there are these wise words, “Perhaps the teachers that we are in need of most are speaking to use not so much with words as we commonly utilize them, but in quiet languages somewhere deep within our knowing.” I believe this is true.
We speak the language of the fungi, but we have grown so far removed that we forget how deeply we are connected to one another. That language still lives in us. We are kin to the fungi after all. The next time you find that you have been carrying all your yuck yourself, or dumping it on others, go ahead and lay it down on the earth. She wants it. Your fungal friends will know what to do with it. And while you’re at it, go ahead and ask for the help you need. You are supported.
With gratitude and love.