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Worms, Jane Goodall, and Mental Health

May 06, 2020

"Hope is like medicine. It’s as important and tangible as Tylenol."

That's according to Flavia Nobay, an emergency room doctor who was interviewed in The Washington Post in an article about the growing mental health crisis that is arriving on the heals of COVID-19.

As I was reviewing the daunting statistics this morning, working feverishly for my morning writer's deadline, my husband arrived from his morning hike with the mail under his arm.

He placed a small box marked "PERISHABLE" on my desk as I was writing.  I was excited. My worms had arrived.

Unfortunately, the box had been left in our mailbox overnight in subfreezing temperatures.  I opened the small, cloth bag within and peered into a lump of frigid soil filled with cold, tiny, lifeless worms.

Despite the day's deadlines, I knew I needed to take care of my red wigglers. Following the directions, I poured fresh water into the bag to help them get some moisture. Then I moved my new composting team to a warm, sunny spot and watched for signs of life.

Within minutes they were revived. Squiggling. Burrowing into the soil. Eager to have space to move around again. I returned to my work rejuvenated and inspired.

I heard a story this week from environmental activist Jane Goodall. When she was less than 2 years old, her mother discovered her tucked into bed with a fistful of earthworms.

Rather than being upset at the mess, her wise and gracious mother explained to young Jane that earthworms live in the earth, and that they must return to the earth in order to survive. 

What if, we too, come from the earth? 

What if we, too, need to return to nature to survive and thrive?

What if we shift our priorities so we can always prioritize the things that matter most?

Apologies to those of you who were expecting an email from me this morning. I had to save some worms.

(Or maybe they had to save me??)

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