The Mushroom

The stresses of life. We bemoan them. We dread them. We fall down at the feet of them. We give them power. Maybe too much power?

I met a friend recently, and she shared with me her joy of foraging. She is a forager who knows her stuff. She knows what to pick, what to prune, and what to abandon. She knows what is worthy, she knows what is indifferent, and she knows what is toxic. She takes what will nurture her and ignores what will poison.

She uses mushrooms as her illustration. She dislikes them, she says. At least, she used to dislike them. However, after eating mushrooms found in the wild, she has revised her opinion. Up until then, she had only tasted mushrooms grown for purpose; mushrooms that were sowed, honed, and shaped in a protected processed environment, made to order, and produced to schedule; the stresses of nature kept at bay so that science can do its work unhindered.

However, the mushrooms she forages, and to which she has become a convert, are not produced to scale, trade, or timings. They grow in the wild, and instead of avoiding the stresses of nature, they embody them. These wild mushrooms own an abundance of nutrients, not found in their refined counterparts. They are more robust, sweeter, and a different product entirely. Their sanitized cousins wilt in comparison. Rather than avoiding the stresses of nature, the wild mushroom endures, encapsulates, and owns them with its consumption being by desire rather than design.

So, can we learn from the forager? And can we learn from the wild mushroom?

In life, do we recognize what’s worthy, dismiss what’s indifferent, and abandon what’s toxic? Can we fear stress less? Can we own stress more? Can we embody stress rather than run from it?

If we keep our realities too sanitized, too processed, and too orchestrated, how do we walk each other home? How do we empathize? How do we exercise compassion? Because, for all our differences, we are very much the same, just maybe not at the same time.

The inherent truth of nature needs to be listened to. Experience has taught us that as a source of information, it has far more integrity than the myriad of other channels out there. In the same vein, being alert to human nature has the same importance. Active listening is another form of foraging – the harvest being connection, intimacy, understanding, and vitality.

We may not invite stress into our lives willingly. Regardless, it visits us. Instead of bemoaning, dreading it and empowering it – maybe it’s time to accept it? Maybe it’s time to understand it as a formation of our humanity, our care, our resilience, and ultimately our armor so that we become a more robust and sweeter self – a different entity entirely?

I Am Here