Last week, Suleika Jaouad offered a story in her Isolation Journals publication, about her recent touring of the “floating islands” in Xochimilco, a neighborhood of Mexico City, and her tour guide, Vincent: “As we plied the still waters of Xochimilco, our guide, Victor, talked about the origin of the canals: how they were dredged and the displaced earth used to build up chinampas (often called ‘floating islands,’ though they don’t actually float). At the edges of these little plots of land, they planted tall, thin willows, which like most trees root down to the same distance that they reach up into the sky. These willows act like anchors, shoring up the edges, holding the islands in place. ‘Rooting is not a static process,’ Victor said with a smile.”
I was struck by two things: one, that I didn’t realize most trees root down as far as they reach high; and two, how dynamic a process rooting truly is.
Tree roots go as deep as the tree is high? Why have I not known this? Or is it one of those many things I’ve heard, have been told before, but am only now willing and available to actually know it? Some wisdom that’s able to land in my heart and not just in the big soupy mess of my head. Heart wisdom is like these trees, I think—it grows deeper as I grow in awareness, transforming and shifting, never static.
My own body, too, hasn’t been static in its rooting. Or I haven’t been static in my rooting into my body. That’s a funny and true thing to write—I haven’t been static in my rooting into my body, as if two entities are doing one work. Which, in a way, is both excatly the case, and not, because of course the true rooting is creating union where there might otherwise be dissection.
Dissection. I guess this post is becoming science-y. This is a word and an action that is also true. I am thinking about a time when I was 14, lying in my white twin bed with my legs stretched out in front of me. I was gazing down at myself, with the voices of school kids, images from magazines and tv shows, rooted into my thoughts. Most of me is all wrong, I thought.
I stared at my toes. They’re ok, I can keep my toes. They’re striaght and not too long or crooked. But my feet have to go—way too big. I worked my way upward, mentally dissecting into my body, slicing away all the parts I’d be better off, more attractive, without: my thighs, butt, crooked teeth, my nose. I prayed and wished for smaller all of it.
Nearly twenty years passed before I began to reconcile these diced away places. I found my body and breath could move together through yoga and this was a start. Then, one December morning, I discovered I was pregnant. I desperately wanted to control how my body would unfold into pregnancy, yet I couldn’t. Not the first time or the second. Rooting back to myself took a kind of letting go—letting my body grow the information and foundation it needed.
Did that awareness last? Like Vincent said, rooting isn’t a static process, not for trees and not for me. The awareness has shifted but it’s rooted in way I once couldn’t imagine—and it continues to root through sickness, through watching friends die, through all the transformation of my body and those I love. Some part of this awareness keep moving deeper into my heart. Like all mythic stories, as I continue living, it is cracking me and moving deeper in as I rewrite this story of what is rooted in me.
January often leaves me dismayed by how many messages there are that our bodies need to be something different—the start of the year messaging is deep and loud. Consider continuing in a softer way, friends. Let your body be a container for your heart’s desire. Continue to get to know yourself slowly and softly this month. Rooting isn’t a static process but it is well worth the living into.
I’m including this practice for all readers this week, friends. A gift, perhaps, toward rooting, because I believe it must be the work of us all to come to know. Click here to access and let me know how you feel or if you have any questions.
Wishing you a vision toward rooting into love in this week ahead.
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