When you think about it, you’d surely agree roots are amazing things. Yesterday, during my morning exercise, I contemplated roots while I walked. I allowed my thoughts to follow the path of least resistance, seeking the means to flourish – just like the roots I was thinking about.
When I looked around I saw so many different kinds of roots, so many ways of achieving the same end of stability and sustenance. There were big trees like the Moreton Bay Fig, thrusting sinuous roots down into the earth, weaving around obstacles to get a firm grip in order to survive and thrive. In other parts of the country, these stately trees have great buttress roots one could barely climb over. How different they are to the smaller but equally impressive Pandanus trees whose structural ‘prop’ roots remind me of the game ‘Pick-Up-Sticks’ we played as children.
Other plants like bamboo, gingers, heliconias and cannas, take a more flexible approach to life. If the first place they send roots down doesn’t suit, then they move on to more fertile fields. I purchased a Tropicanna Canna Lily I’d coveted for some time and planted it in what I felt was a suitable position in my garden. Life must have looked greener on the other side of the fence because it migrated underneath soon after and thrived in a neighbour’s garden much to her delight and my chagrin.
Metaphorically roots ground us as social beings.
They give us identity and security. Being a part of a community is essential for well-being – we are social creatures after all. While we may ‘branch out’ and migrate as individuals, or even en masse, an origin story or history is a valued essential. Historically, diasporas occur when a society or a large part of it, seeks a better environment in which to flourish; one where they are free to express their cultural and individual identities, live without fear and thrive. ‘Putting down roots’ is a commitment to community.
Having a family ‘tree’ with roots to show from where we have sprung, and a wide spread of branches to indicate how we have grown and where we are heading – a family tree of which we are singularly but a leaf – helps to construct our identity giving relevance to our lives. The ‘family tree’ gives us a metaphor with which to comprehend our history; a framework of branches from which to hang our genesis stories. We draw strength from being a part of a larger whole.
How important is having roots in a community (be it real or virtual) to you?