Life Musings, North America

On Roots and Belonging

There is a restlessness to my silence, a boredom in my soul, lodging itself in my heart. I am staring at the beautiful outdoors of rural Maine, arm-wrestling all of the coincidences and circumstances that have brought me here, questioning their divinity, second guessing the synchronicities along the way. I am turning my ear away from the Universal tempo. I cannot control and cannot compete with the beat of life. Even so, I want to rush ahead like so many skipping stones. I want to make my own ripples, I want to reach across that wide expanse and touch the other side of the shore.
I want desperately to belong- to you, to a place, to a people.

Wolf Neck Woods, Maine 2015

Sometimes, I am convinced that I am finally ready to be in the same place for awhile. With impatience, I try transplanting my roots and pouring some concrete on top, determined to bloom where I am planted. Other times, a stirring anxiety propels me forward, rarely asking permission before launching me out of my latest web of comfort.
Preparing for my around the world adventure.
Oak Grove, Missouri 2013

Last year, I thought Nashville would be a place of staying and belonging. I started looking for a full-time job and dating someone I thought could be the one to start building a life with. I took the time to learn the names of my neighbors, invited them over for potlucks, and exchanged homemade cookies at Christmas. I got a library card, started going to yoga once a week, and envisioned a community garden with chicken coops in the backyard.

This time last year, I was sure I was through for awhile. Through with the insecurity and instability of a nomadic life. Through with goodbyes, with waiting, with transition, with uprooting and unknowing.

I wanted things to fall in place, to see the evidence of all of the hopes I held in my heart manifest in a way I could touch, and point to, and prove. I was tired. Tired of believing, tired of talking myself into stubborn gladness, tired of emptying and filling, and emptying until I had nothing left to pour out. I wanted to fill up, to hold onto, to create something sustainable and impenetrable. I wanted so badly to be the girl who stays, who is content with routine, who chooses things that are safe, once in a freaking while.

There is a hollow cave of contradiction embodied in the deepest parts of my psyche holding so many stigmas and stalactites. Slowly melting, they create new formations of belief, dripping with relief, with careless freedom they hit dark pools of peace. The truth is, I am neither the girl who leaves, nor the girl who stays. Sometimes I am both at the same time. I am rooted and rootless. I have been trying so hard to fit myself into one box or another, to predict my own reactions to the opportunities and circumstances life throws my way, to establish some sort of protocol for who I should be and who I want to become.

The fact is, there is no protocol. Life just doesn’t operate that way. As hard as I tried, I never got that full-time job, and the boy I thought I might want to settle down with disappeared and moved to New Jersey. I never planted a garden, though we did build a treehouse and paint the kitchen a cool mint green.

Last year, for twelve precious months, I was in a season of staying and it felt so good. I spent time with family, rested, and built new relationships that I will always treasure. What I hoped was a place of permanence became a place of transience that provided so much comfort and love and joy. It was a gift I will never forget.
Snowed in shenanigans in our house in Nashville, Tennessee 2015
*Celebrating a family wedding in Kansas City, 2015

This year, as the buds began to form on the trees once again, I realized I was entering another phase of leaving, a time for opening my heart to hold enough room for the goodbyes and the hellos. I started feeling ready for taking risks again, for betting on outcomes I couldn’t logically calculate or predict, but knew I had to take a chance on anyway. I started feeling that gentle prodding and pulling of my heart strings telling me it was time to move on. That whether I wanted it to be true or not, I had enough courage to step once more into the Unknown.

I don’t know how to predict the trajectory of my life. I’m not sure how long this new season of homelessness and restlessness will last. I don’t know if I will ever settle down in a permanent location or if this will be my life forever, creating temporary homes wherever I go. Maybe I don’t have to know anymore.
Mirror Lake, Oregon 2015

One of my favorite yoga teachers, begins each class with this reminder, “Your breath is portable and perennial.” What if my sense of belonging was the same? What if I felt rooted no matter where I was, or who I was with? What if I could finally recognize that my roots are buried deep within my chest, connected to my breath?

I’m starting to have a sneaking suspicion my need to belong and put down roots can only be answered by becoming my own home, by finding that fertile place within my own heart to grow and thrive.
Napa Valley, California 2015

I’m not there yet. My breath is still more shaky and shallow than it is deep and calm. My roots still stretch and reach for things outside of myself for nourishment and stability. I still long for a person, or a place, or a people to belong to, for good.

But maybe, just maybe, like Cheryl Strayed, I can begin “planting a root in the very center of my rootlessness.” Maybe you can too. Maybe we can grow together, side by side, rooted in our own sense of belonging, never asking another to become our home, but reaching toward the same sky nonetheless. Letting the same wind caress our face, gently swaying with the breath, holding steady, rooted in love.

*Photo credits M&E Photography, Kansas City, Missouri

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