Thursday, August 29, 2013

Gonna kick it root down


Trees aren't known for road trips. They seem to dig spreading roots. That's their tree-ness. But don't let trees' stationary nature fool you. They kick it root down. The Beastie Boys and Octavio Paz get it.

tree that is firmly rooted and that dances,
turning course of a river that goes curving,
advances and retreats, goes roundabout,
arriving forever: - Octavio Paz, "Sun Stone"

Firmly rooted AND dances. That's how I see trees. A friend recently wrote about her nomadic nature, how she mostly loves it, relocating from place to place, living on the go, but sometimes gets overwhelmed by it. A few weeks ago my wife, who is from a small town outside Pittsburgh, asked me if I felt like I'd accomplished/would accomplish less because we live in the place where I grew up.

No. Quite the opposite. I feel strengthened living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I think it's because I kick it root down. I don't know if I'm fully comparing myself to a tree, but there is something to the power of place, for me this place, that is comforting, energizing and inspiring. When I go for a run, either solo or with friends, I see things I've never seen, even running the same route, I pass or meet people I've never met, and there are places to see and things to do I haven't skimmed the surface of in 41 years. Some of our closest friends are people that have moved here, people who felt something about this place, people I'd have never known if I didn't live here.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of road trips. Maine is incomparable, the White Mountains in New Hampshire are breathtaking, the Florida Keys and the Outer Banks are rejuvenating. I can be up for a good road trip in a key jingle.

But there is something to tree wisdom. There is something to the idea that roots actually help me float in the clouds, by knowing the ground beneath me.

And it's not just the firmly rooted part. It's the "and that dances." I'm not much of a dancer, but let's be metaphorical, shall we? Let's look at dancing as celebrating, as joy, as movement and wonder. It's not in addition to being rooted, it's because of being rooted.

I met my wife here. We were married here. Our kids were born and are growing up here. I've worked and lived and played and explored here. I've dug into the history and geography of the place. My history and the history of this place are the same, intertwined. We like to kick it root down.

(By the way, Paz's notion of rivers, constantly flowing the same course, but ever-changing, constantly renewing, "arriving forever" works the same as the tree metaphor, but I can't think of a catchy song lyric to tie that together :)

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