The Jewels of Decay


“The crucible of making human beings is death. Every culture worth a damn knows that. It’s not success, it’s not growth, it’s not happiness. It’s death. That’s the cradle of your love of life; the fact that it ends.” — Stephen Jenkinson

Fungi are the jewels of death and decay to me… they remind me that this story of a fixed and unchanging self- separate, safe and superior from the sweet, bleeding, rotting mess of life is just that, a story, told repeatedly by a very unwell culture.

They are helping me to recognise the many subtle and not-so subtle ways in which I defend against the inevitable dissolving that awaits me and all whom I love in this life, human and other-than-human.

They are helping me to see just how much I shut down my aliveness in my effort to prop up a static and consistent image of life… They are helping me to gently dismantle that image.

They are helping me to recognise that death feeds life… and that every part that I identify as me- has passed through infinite bodies and forms without end since the first fiery bursting forth.

They are helping me to remember that who i truly am, is much older, wider and more mysterious than this separate individual self I sometimes mistakenly take myself to be.

They are helping me to remember that my body is an ecology, a forest, a world unto itself.

And that my life and that of the ancient pines, fungi, whale, lichen and cloud all exist together within an intelligent and responsive mycelial network of interdependence.

Grateful to these wild intelligences for reminding me what it means to have a face and dance through this life as one of what we call, human.