On the first day of our editor’s retreat for The Daily Tar Heel, our general manager asked us the captivating question: “What do you need to feel human this year?” The answers from my fellow editors ranged from a good meal from their favorite Franklin Street establishment to hearing live music at their favorite venue. After thinking for a minute or two, the answer came to me.
I need to touch grass.
The infamous phrase, “go touch some grass,” has taken off as an internet phenomenon, especially in the era of COVID-19 quarantine and “chronically online” culture. It has gained a negative connotation, primarily being used in the context of online insults. But the meaning of “touch grass,” at least according to the all-reliable knowyourmeme.com and www.urbandictionary.com, is simply that one has spent too much time online and needs to snap back to reality.
Some may be offended by the phrase, but I think it is absolutely necessary and valid when used in the right context. Sometimes all that we need is some ultraviolet radiation, fresh air and grass beneath our feet to feel grounded (literally).
Grounding myself came naturally to me as a kid. My parents limited my technology usage and I was the only child living at home, so I could only entertain myself with the world around me. I spent my days frolicking through the woods, digging holes and rolling down hills. I spent my nights learning about music, singing and teaching myself how to play various instruments. Nature and music were the two things that I knew would comfort me.
As I grew older, my screen time increased, and my time outdoors and at my piano bench decreased. There were many reason for that, but the biggest one was my ongoing mental health battle that had been present ever since I could remember. As I struggled to get out of my own head, I struggled to get out of my own room.
By the end of 2020, things had taken a turn for the worse. However, as the world slowed down with the pandemic, the extra time on my hands allowed me to take better care of myself. When I got the help that I needed, I was able to experience what living really feels like for the first time in years. My life began again in January of 2021, and I knew that to uphold all of the progress that I had made, I had to return to my roots (once again, literally).
My “go touch some grass” mantra begins here. Every day since then, I have made a point to incorporate both music and nature into my routine to ensure that I feel human. I have to constantly remind myself that there is more out there than my anxieties and my ruminations. When I touch grass, I come back to earth and reenter the real world.
These songs help bring me back to reality when I find myself spiraling downward into oblivion. There is no set genre or mood or an average number of beats per minute. They only share one common theme: There’s more to life.
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