The Chinese phrase for “down to earth” is 接地气 (jiē dì qì), or “connected to the breath of earth.” I was thinking about this phrase the other day, because while the concepts are the same, the translations are a bit different. 

In English, the idea of “down to earth” refers to being sensible… reasonable.. grounded. In fact, it’s all quite focused on the solid stuff beneath our feet.

Meanwhile, the Chinese translation of the same concept is, “connected to the breath of earth”.  The first character, 接 (jiē), means “to connect”. The second character is “earth”, and the third is “breath or air”. 

Maybe this is just semantics and I’m getting caught up in the poetry. But I kind of love this idea that being practical and level-headed isn’t just about staying close to the ground. It’s about channeling the pulse of a living organism. It’s about being sensitive to, and plugging into a larger whole.

After all, who wouldn’t be better off, connecting to the breath of earth?

#workplacechinese Photo credit