“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
Usually I remember Tolkein’s lines as they relate to wandering. So last month it was the perfect epigraph, with emphasis on the second line. But as so doing, I realized the lines illustrate wandering’s complement: rooting in the right place.
I have multiple root systems. Sometimes I visualize them as different layers or dimensions because I have different outlets and support systems , plus some unusual teachers. I rely on them to help me do my life’s work and to handle conflict consciously. More importantly, I use them avoid distractions or deprecations, so that I stay grounded in what I should be doing, whether work, play, or practice.
One of those deep roots is my tribe of loved ones, the chosen family who anchor me so fully. I have always valued communal connection. And I am a word geek, so I think about etymology just as often:
Their single origin: the Latin communis. (Or, to geek out further, a simpler root of both common and connect.)
Deep roots are not reached by superficial (literally, on the surface) happenings. Moreover, they reach what is invisible to they eye, though not invisible to the heart. This is exactly how I feel about my community—that they reach my furthest depths.
As much as I need to wander, I equally need to commune. Among other yoga practitioners at sunrise. With friends who gather for a weekly late night sweat. With readers of (commenters on) this blog. Being nomadic has taught me who I truly am, but there is not always time to share my depths. But being in community has pushed my potential—those who root me are the most effective at making me live my best. Members of tribe are the people who have most encouraged me to write, live courageously amidst uncertainty, teach, wander, play music, dance.
- The depth of roots also protects them. Likewise, my tribe is not just supportive, but also protective. My community anchors me such that the frost or anything else happening outside of me does not penetrate the deep roots.
Sometimes the frost is very immediate, both literal and localized. But mostly the frost is metaphorical, in many forms. Failure. Disappointment. Undeserved cruelty. Frustration. Stagnancy. Seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Or other changing conditions—now halfway through the Blue Spirit Wheel tour, I have endured swampy New Orleans humidity, scorching Arizona heat, rapidly changing elevation, San Francisco gusts, Pacific chill, Oregon fog. Normally so many changes would be difficult to handle, particularly in such rapid succession. But even when wandering, I still encounter my community— it transcends geography. Regardless of the physical distance, no one in my tribe is ever far emotionally.
The stronger the roots, the more grace I embody when I confront the various frosts. And the continued communion deepens the roots.
SK © 2013