Children of the Dirt

Read this short story by Simon Rich (The Last Girlfriend on Earth):

According to Aristophanes, there were originally three sexes – the children of the moon who were half-male and half-female, the children of the sun who were fully male, and the children of the earth, who were fully female. Everyone had four legs, four arms and two heads, and spent their days in blissful contentment. Zeus became jealous of the humans’ joy so he decided to split them all in two. Aristophanes called this punishment the origin of love because ever since, the children of the earth, moon and sun have been searching the globe in a desperate bid to find their other halves. Aristophanes’ story though is incomplete because there was also a fourth sex – the children of the dirt. Unlike the other three sexes, the children of the dirt consisted of just one half. Some were male and some were female and each had just two arms, two legs and one head. The children of the dirt found the children of the earth, moon and sun to be completely insufferable. Whenever they saw a two-headed creature walking by, talking to itself in baby-talk voices, it made them want to vomit. They hated going to parties and when there was no way to get out of one, they sat in the corner, too bitter and depressed to talk to anybody. The children of the dirt were so miserable that they invented wine and art to dull their pain. It helped a little, but not really. When Zeus went on his rampage he decided to leave the children of the dirt alone. They’re already [bleep], he explained.

Happy gay couples descend from the children of the sun. Happy lesbian couples descend from the children of the earth. And happy straight couples descend from the children of the moon. But the vast majority of humans are descendants of the children of the dirt. And no matter how long they search the earth, they’ll never find what they’re looking for because there’s nobody for them, not anybody in the world.

[pause]

This story came into my life during a rough patch. I had packed my car and was driving home to get hugs from my mother, snuggles from my doggy, and walks on roads where the lines aren’t painted on. I needed that during this rough patch. NPR was on and this story was read aloud by the author. At the end of the podcast, they repeat at least 20 times: “They’ll never find what they’re looking for because there’s nobody for them, not anybody in the world.”

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Listening to this over and over and over as the fields of green sped by my window, I found myself oddly… comforted. Only one tear snuck out and slid down my cheek.

I feel, in this moment of my life, exactly like a child of the dirt. But as I listened to the podcast, I felt as if I had received a special membership card. I was now a card-carrying member of a select group: someone who won’t find what they’re looking for because there’s nobody for them in the whole world.

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At first, this idea¬†feels dark and very lonely. But it’s – oddly enough – very freeing! It gives you permission to stop looking for who or what you think you should have in your life right now. It gives you permission to stop doing what you’re doing right now and what you’re expecting right now because you aren’t going to find it. If you’re looking for specific answers hoping it’ll provide relief – stop. If you’re looking for comfort outside of yourself – stop. If you’re looking for happiness from something or someone else – stop. Children of the dirt know that looking outside of themselves seeking to be whole will not work. Ever.

The story reminds you to look inside; to stop seeking wholeness outside of yourself because you are already whole.

Every child is a child of the dirt. Since life is transient, a child of the dirt can bump into someone with whom they’d like to witness life together, but they’ll remain a child of the dirt – solid, grounded, whole – alone. And it’s OK to originate¬†as a child of the dirt. Just as it OK to originate a child of the moon, sun or earth. There is nothing wrong with seeking a partner and being a great partner and finding your wholeness in a partnership. There is also nothing wrong with seeking nothing because what you seek is in you, and that may be all you ever get or need.

 

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