When I was a lad, my brothers and I played a video game called Earthworm Jim. The plot was surreal and strangely intriguing. Jim was an earthworm superhero who battled villains in a robotic space suit, whipping his enemies with his earthworm head and blasting them with his trusty plasma gun. This concept helped forge my now enigmatic imagination in the fires of my formative years. As strange as that storyline may sound, I would later discover that earthworms are truly the unsung heroes of the earth.
Years ago, I embarked on an enchanting journey into gardening. I aimed to grow the most exotic species I could find: giant pumpkins, multicolored carrots and tomatoes, and pretty much anything I had never heard of. I needed an edge, something that could make my mad scientist dreams come true. As I dug into the heart of the matter, I unearthed the primordial truth that compost is the key. Simply put, compost is death that is turned into life. Even more enthralling was my discovery that earthworms are the Keebler Elves of compost.
Earthworms, with little to no fanfare, have been silently churning soil for millennia, transforming dead matter into life-giving plant food. And if that wasn’t cool enough, earthworms actually do possess super powers. Earthworms have the innate ability to transform waste lands into edenic wonderlands. They munch on soils polluted by toxic metals and other disgusting contaminants repositing those hazardous waste zones with filtered and fertile new earth.
There was no way I was going to miss out on harnessing something so marvelously simple and powerful. So, I ordered some red wigglers online. When I went to pick up my prize at the post office, the workers there looked at me like I was a serial killer. All they saw were worms trying to crawl out of a box. If only they had seen the bigger picture.
In a world that is saturated with smaller pictures and the insatiable need for recognition via bathroom selfies, self-aggrandizing social media stories, and flamboyantly faux acts of compassion, maybe we could take a page from the earthworm playbook. Earthworms work quietly, unseen, and underappreciated, doing some of the most vital work on our planet. So, maybe instead of polluting the world with the diarrhea of your online insecurities, go outside, garden, and grow in the art of silent serenity.
PAUL MICHAEL JONES is an artist who currently dabbles in music, photography and creative writing.