Love and Compost. What do they have in common?
Well, likely not everything. Let’s just see.
1. They both take time to unfold.
2. They both require some essential ingredients mixed in a particular way.
3. They both can get messy while it is developing.
4. They both are magical and nourishing when attended to just so and allowed to manifest.
All this came to me the moment I dug into my compost pile for the first time this spring.
I always heard that compost was the richest soil you can make, filled with nutrients. When I opened the bin I found some mostly broken down leaves. And worms! Thousands of worms! Doing their job, eating the goodies I put in the pile during the year so meticulously. Exactly what I hoped I would find. Although it was a little messy.
I began filling buckets and moving more and more of this to my blueberry bushes, my roses and raspberry patch. Digging deeper and deeper. And then I saw it. Beautifully dark, rich soil. No leaves, everything broken down completely. I had never seen this before. This is what all the work during the year was for. This moment.
It popped into my head that this is the same as discovering love. The kind we yearn for in relationships. That moment. When all the work, going slowly through the struggles, staying connected, staying present, crying and not blaming, listening and sharing honestly and making agreements to do what it takes to show we care. That moment when you hear your partner say in the middle of a conversation about something simple, ‘Well, you are my best friend.” and continues on with the conversation about that simple thing.
When composting soil, the ingredients are nitrogen —the green things like grass and food scraps. Carbon —the brown things, in my case shredded leaves and shredded paper. I also would get spent grain from the neighborhood brewery. This heats it up. Learning to heat it up to the right temp over the course of 4 seasons to keep the worms happy took a bit of navigating and nuanced and deliberate application. It also needs water and air, in the right amounts requiring turning the ingredients over with some consistency. Doing all this just right, and allowing the time needed for the worms and heat to do what is aligned with the natural rhythms of life, resulted in clean, rich, nutrient dense soil perfect for nourishing life in the garden.
When composting love, the ingredients are honesty (sharing feelings and needs) with complete responsibility. Meaning understanding and sharing our truth without blame. Blame is NOT an ingredient in love. Other ingredients include listening with care, and speaking up. Acceptance and allowing what is present and important for each in the relationship. Even when it is a little messy…especially when it gets messy. This mixed up over and over with time results in love. The kind that friends who have known each other forever have. That kind that you notice sometimes in our grandparents. That kind of love that you see in certain partnerships (business and romantic) that isn’t easy to speak about, yet you feel is there. It is a rich, nutrient dense (read needs filled) experience that is nourishing for life.
In both creating soil and love, the recipe is simple. And it requires attention.
Had I not gone to the brewery in the cold [remember how cold it was this winter?!] and filled heavy buckets with the smelly spent grain, I would not have beautiful soil. Had I not taken the time to go out with the shovel to turn over the pile to add air into the mix. Had I not taken a look to see and be present to what was happening in there. To notice what was needed in this moment, I would not have ended up with the perfect soil this spring.
Had I not listened to my partner, to hear his truth, to be fully present and accepting of what is important to him, our relationship would not be an experience of love. Had he not shown me in so many ways how much he cared about me and my well-being —over and over, our relationship would not be nested in so much love and trust as it is. And, anyone who know us, knows that this took time. In our case, 17 years. At it was a little (a lot) messy at times. We had to check in, turn our relationship and assumptions over and see what was needed, again and again, to generate the rich, need filled experience we now have.
So, yes, composting soil is the same as composting love.
Composting soil is much easier. Only a two year learning curve.