Mud, bugs, slime, moss, yellow snow:) They all bring a sense of disgust to our faces but why? When we reflect on our environments one of the greatest changes has been the cleanliness of our environment and upbringing. What are we doing? We are sterilizing every aspect of our life and those we care for from the bathrooms at home, school desks for our children, to the Mcdonald’s playground. If it can’t be bleached, then its banned. Have you read about the long term effects of this kind of environment? If not, take a moment here to read this article: Antibacterial Cleansers Can Hurt Immune System.
Traveling from America to Asia and repeating this process every few years, gives us an interesting perspective on environments. The culture shock is experienced on both ends of the contrasting environments with one side overly concerned to keep all dirt away reaching a point of extreme anxiety filled with a bunch of legal jargon or hygienic practices which seem more cultural than scientific.
What does this mean for our children today whether how it effects their immune system or how it effects their ability to withstand a bit of dirt. How does this effect us as adults who were raised this way? Our tolerance of dirt or nature effects our immunity and our ability to endure environments that are not as “clean” whether the problem of endurance is physical or mental. More people are traveling around the world than ever before but their immunity is weaker and I believe the mental ability to live in dirtier environments is also getting weaker over the years.
Why is this important? Because some of our greatest experiences in Asian life would be missed if we did not recognize and change this perspective!
Eating with locals who may or may not have opportunities to wash their hands and like to eat with their hands!
The month when the village I lived in flooded and I had to walk daily through waters when I knew none of my neighbors had a toilet!
Riding public transport with Asians on carts that may have carried a family of pigs to the market or the meat from the pigs away from the market!
Lastly, to share my newborns with others without blinking an eye or asking them to sanitize their hands first!
These memories and others could be done without a look on my face or hesitation in my voice. I decided to put my previous concepts of cleanliness aside and find a new way. A better way to live with others.
Today, love deeply, let go, get dirty, find nature, forget comfort, run in the wind today without worrying about allergies, let your kids play in the dirt without fear, prepare yourself to live with more dirt and less bleach! Get to know others who live a lot different from you!