Thursday 27 January 2011

The concept of getting dirty

Observing myself, I find that though I like mud and don’t mind using it for some purposes, I am not quite comfortable with getting dirty. Though oft I speak of getting connected to the earth by doing some physical activity, the fact is that when I have had a bath and I come across some task wherein I have to get down into a muddy place which also has water, I try finding excuses to escape that particular situation. It is for this and many other reasons that I cannot become a tribal. Dealing with many facets of tribal literature and their way of living, I find that their world view and lifestyle seems to be closer to the earth. Their tasks which include fishing, hunting and other activities involve a lot with getting muddied. I feel that they share a very vibrant and passionate relationship with their environment.

How much ever the tribal way of life fascinates me, I am forced to come to terms with the fact that my lifestyle is completely removed from theirs. Maybe my sensibilities and sense of awareness on diverse cultures are perhaps a degree higher than an individual who has done, say, engineering or rocket science but I am no different than the average city dweller for whom getting dirty is not very pleasant.

Now coming back to the concept of getting dirty, there is no such concept for a tribal. There is no distinction of the dirty in their everyday life. They have a sense of order and harmony but dirt, I am not very sure. Being clean, I think is a very modern concept, which emerged after the onset of Industrial Revolution. With the increasing plethora of advertisements which force hygiene as a way of life, it is but natural that one repulses anything dirty or even something remotely brown or gray. The very idea of clean clothes, hands, feet and head has made our living highly conscious and wary of dirt.

The only willing parties to getting dirty and brown are children. They roll, play and sit on mud. Some kids even eat mud. As they grow older, they start adopting the ‘clean’ ideologies of the elders thus forsaking the concept of getting dirty. Another set of people who are willing parties to getting dirty are potters, painters and the like. But sometimes their profession is so that they belong to the realm of ‘artists’ and thus in a way privileged. But even the artists get ‘dirty’ only when at work. I might be wrong here, but still.

Sometimes when we internalize some aspects of what we read, we think that it is quite easy to ‘become’ something, little realizing that while some things are wonderful to be imagined, the reality is far removed.

What are your opinions on this? Do you like getting dirty or are you like me!?!?

Image: Internet


  1. Being clean or dirty is one's personal choice, but if you want to work close to mother earth you have to get dirty.
    There is a different kind of joy in getting the work accomplished by soiling your hands and feet.
    Have you noticed the pure joy of a child who would like to squish mud through their toes on a rainy day. Tell an adult to do the same thing by removing his shoes and socks and the first reaction would be "yuck"

  2. Hehe, dear Susan, only you can make such a great post about mud!;))
    YES, I definitely do not mind getting dirty. I love soil and mud, and I love to feel it covering my fingers, getting under my fingernails as i work in the garden. I love the consistency and the scent of it and the whole primal experience, the connection of nature.
    With that said though, I take shower at least twice a day and I love to be clean. So I guess to me it is either or - there is time to be muddy and dirty and I enjoy it, but then I like to get clean.;)
    Have a great day,

  3. Hmmmm, well, I love gardening and hiking and camping, things like that but no, I can't really say that generally I am all that keen on getting dirty. I love to have hot showers and really appreciate that clean feeling.:)

    Sometimes I think it's sad we lose that sense of abandoned play that we had as children but such is life I guess.:)

    Interesting post!

    Have a really wonderful day!

  4. Depends on how you get dirty. On days like holi I find it fun! Or in situations like a bunch of friends jumping in a nearby pool.. it feels awesome.

    On a normal day Yikes!

  5. Nu:

    Nice to know that but is that the done thing. Wondering.


    It is personal choice but the choice is also influenced by many other external factors such as media, culture and other aspects.
    As I said in my post, children are the only willing party to getting muddied and dirty. They do not differentiate between clan and not clean. But for an adult there are strict boundaries between the two.

  6. Zuzana:

    I am also like you. And thanks for the kind words. They make me glow with joy :)


    I love the outdoors too but getting dirty is ummmm, not so liked by me.

  7. Taboo:

    You are a joyful being. Well, get dirty :)


    "Depends on how you get dirty" is interesting. I thought it was either clean or not clean but degrees, I did not think of. Jumping into a pool is not getting dirty, Sam. Well, now I should scan your mind for I have to know your definition of "dirty."

    But for tribals, every day is the same. They don't have days where they get "dirty." Wooh. Long comment reply.

  8. It is dirty.. jumping in a pool. The mud sticking on to your wet clothes as you walk out.. and those million slimy little things caught up in your hair... eww. But ya. If you had good fun. It is justified.

  9. i am so into getting i live outside for a year right after college...cooked everything over a fire...still took showers but i was resigned to always smelling of wood smoke and was rather freeing...

  10. Hi, first time here...

    I don't personally like getting dirty. But i don't think human being has existence sans mud and dirt.

    You observe small things and write about them in a very thought-provoking manners..Obviously great read...


  11. I love getting dirty. This goes back to my childhood when my favorite thing to do was to play with worms and ants. In adulthood I have been known to go to the local farms, get down in the dirt, and pick my own beans. I love to re-pot my houseplants. Especially, I love to go to the beach not just for the water, but for the sand. I like to sit directly in it, bury my feet, and play with it with my hands. I never really thought of it this way. Great post!

  12. Hey Tara:

    Nice to see you again. Been long, huh. Good to know that we are photocopies in the way we think of dirt!


    I was thinking swimming pool. Ah! It is justified. I would like to see people playing in that pool but getting down there. NO. NO.

  13. Brian:

    I had a gut feeling that you would say that you love to get dirty. Wood smoke and sweat sounds romantic but I don't know how I will respond to it in reality. Hmmm. So much so.


    Welcome here and thanks for the kind words. They are highly appreciated. We are connected to the earth, but we don't like getting dirty (atleast most of us). That is the paradox of our existence. Life is full of paradoxes like this, isn't it?

    Come again sometime when you have the time and inclination. It will be good to read your insights.

  14. Sweepyjean:

    Welcome and glad that you jotted your insights. Worms and ants! Phew. I admire people like that now. As a child, even I used to do that but now, NO. Even this morning when I sat down to eat, I found three worms in my curry and immediately I was quite apalled. I also like the sand but then I need a good bathroom immediately after I finish playing.

    I would like to know your thoughts on cleanliness. It will be an interesting read.

    Joy always and come again.

  15. As always living on a farm, I don't mind to get dirty at all. I know that dirt washes off within minutes and I'll be clean again! I am more of a hiking, camping kind of gal and love the outdoors. Not so much a water lover though. I can do just fine without lakes, streams, etc.

  16. If you like fixing things in the house, painting walls, working in the garden, jogging/running, then you inevitably get dirty and sweaty.

    But this is a positive kind of dirt that is a result of positive activity. So, naturally I don't feel repulsive about it. And after all, we have soap and showers to help us get rid of it.

  17. I paint my house and clean it and get so dirty because of that.. I need my hair and other stuff -you know- to be clean...always- and dirt around me really irritates me... what bothers me most is the smell which might come out of that dirt...
    When I imagine those living in the Middle Ages and longer after... say, 40 years ago?...hummmm- yikes!

    Anyway, I guess one goes with what one has got to get used to...
    Interesting post, indeed.

    Joy > all the way through to that place where you are right now my dear Susan- always.


  18. When I AM dirty--like digging in the mud, for pipe-laying, I like to just STAY dirty and get even more.

    But once clean, don't you go spilling your coffee on me--grin!

    I keep my room fairly clean, but it is so small, I can stay in a chair and clean the whole place! Well, not quite.

    Enough of this "dirty" talk, OK? --grin!

  19. Oh FUN! why is it I am not surprised by your 'earthy' questions...

    There is dirt and there is Dirt..

    then there is hygiene --- having good clean water, to bath, drink wash the food, cook with, water the crops, plants, and more

    A side story, when I was about three years old, my mother was hanging the clothes to dry in the garden and I was playing near by -- when she turned and saw me covered in mud from head to toe, so the story goes, upset was she at me, my response she wrote down in my baby book, I said to my mother this is what my people do we take mud baths to stay pretty and make pottery.

    I do not recall her response, but I am sure she was taken back by my comments.


  20. Mary:

    Welcome here. Wonderful to know that you have a farm. I cannot imagine anyone who does not like water. Nice to kow someone who does not like water!
    Thanks for penning down your insights. It is highly appreciated. Do come by again.


    I ofcourse like fixing things but all that is for a time. I like when you say "positive dirt." Wow! A new way of seeing dirt: positively and negatively.

  21. Dulce:

    Smell and dirt are bedpals and both turn me off. Yes, we go with what we are used to always.

    Greater joy to you my dearest Dulce.

    Big hugs.


    Post Industrial Revolution, dirt and clean were very clearly demarcated. And we are all products of teh modern age so I suppose we are the post Industrial kids.

    Peace back to you dear Steve.

  22. Joanny:

    I am glad that you aren't surprised. You know this side of me. You are quite perceptive, dear Joanny and that is what makes me revel in your posts. And your perception was there right from your formative years. I am quite impressed by you when you were three and more so now.

    Thanks Joanny for that insight. It is highly appreciated.

  23. May be it would take some more for me to become like you ma'am...For now, I enjoy getting dirty, but only if the process of getting dirty is fun!

  24. Nikki:

    I shall await to see you then. Best wishes. Enjoy your dirt and grime.

    Joy always :)

  25. I wont say i like or love to get dirty, but if the situations needs me to get dirty, I don't mind getting dirty. And would definitely clean myself up as quickly as possible. Only you can write a blog on such things Susan. Really admire that.

    Have a dirt-less day!! :)


  26. Dear Susan,

    At last i find myself here again reading and grasping your thoughts... hmmmn... well, most of my childhood days were spent on mud's and dirt's... especially when it rains... i just couldn't stop myself from runnin' and playin' under the rain.... but now that i grown up... i became more conscious 'bout everything... i did take bath twice daily, got irritated with li'l dirt and dusts, wore face masks when goin' school and anywhere, and so on just to stay clean and fresh... but are we really clean??? are we really free from dirts??? i would say no.... co'z in reality we all came from it - from dirts... and sooner or later we'll all come back to where we actually belong... to where we actually start - dirts... i think the concept of bein' clean doesn't go with the physical form of human alone for God will not look at it when the time of judgment comes... cleanse our mind, heart and soul - the sure and pure way to heaven... I had a nice read over here... thank you!!!:)

    Have a nice day and God Bless!!!:)


  27. Sukanya:

    Thanks for the kind words. My weekend is made :)


    Lots of provoking thoughts here. You have extended my post to the religious. Thanks for your kind words.

    Joy always and have a good Sunday :)

  28. This post intrigued me. I have two daughters, one of which is very "tribal". She would live in mud if given the chance. The other is a girl who shudders at the thought of getting dirty. They both came from my womb yet their make-ups are so completely different it astounds me. So perhaps some are born with the tribal instinct, and some like myself, and my daughter would need to be taught.

  29. Romina:

    Welcome. Glad to see you here. Wonders of wonders is how children turn out to be. It is also interesting to observe how utterly different they are after they have grown up. As you were intrigued by this post, your comment has left me so as well.

    Thanks for the follow. It is much appreciated.

    Joy always.

  30. I liked to get down and dirty (literally, ok?) when I was a kid. But as an adult, I'm OC about being squeaky clean.

    I think tribal "dirt" or soil is not necessarily dirty. It's just nature, as leaves and fruit and rocks are. It's modern industrial life that has put dirt in our soil. Even rainwater is suspicious now (acid rain, hello). Vegetables are also laced by pesticides; that's why we have to wash them thoroughly.

    Does that make sense? :)

  31. AJ:

    Welcome and thanks for the visit. Your thoughts exactly mirror mine. Acid rain, oh, don't even talk of that.

    Do come by whenever you feel like.

    Joy always :)

  32. I'm like you, although I firmly believe we can get used to anything. But, being that I am used to not getting dirty, even when I cook, I must wash my hands with everything I touch. I can not stand that feeling of...being dirty. However, I am a runner and when I finish a race, for instance long one like a marathon, I am not at my best cleaning status and I dont mind the ones around me who are just as unclean...
    So...yeah I am like you, but also do get dirty sometimes.

  33. Myriam:

    Great to know that we share similar views on 'getting dirty.' I envy your ability to run marathons. It is my dream to do so, but . . .

    Joy always :)



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