I’ve always been drawn to the idea of staying rooted.
I only started to notice this idea last September, when I got away for 24 hours (you can read about that lovely trip here) and I started praying to be deeply rooted in Christ. Two weeks ago, I was walking around downtown Montreal and saw this man with a tattoo of tree roots. As we drove around, I was toying with the idea of getting a tattoo in Canada with those roots. A tattoo in Canada would have been perfect. After all, Canada is where, really, my love for staying rooted begins.
Anne. Oh, dear Anne of Green Gables.
The first books I ever really loved were from the Anne of Green Gables series (the last one is my absolute favorite). Anne paints for us the beautiful world of Avonlea, with its brooks and forests of trees. With sweet neighbors and faithful townspeople. Avonlea sounded like the perfect place to belong. People connected to one another, and to God’s green earth, changing with the seasons and beautiful in every way.
A few months ago, I checked out of school mentally. I honestly feel like I checked out of school my last semester of college. (And yet, my grades were really nice.) The first thing I did was pick up a book. I started reading The Power of Place by Daniel Grothe, after hearing about him on the Ferment Podcast.
Something in me just really resonated with his message. Of staying in the same place. At the end of last summer, I started (but didn’t finish) If You Lived Here, You’d be Home by Now. It was about the shift that millennials are having—they don’t want apartments, they want homes.
The temporary doesn’t suffice. Not anymore.
So staying rooted.
I looked back on the books I’ve been reading in the last year or two—The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, The More of Less, The Year of Less, A Spacious Life, Growing Slow, and Present Over Perfect. These books have in common a desire to get rid of the excess, to stop accumulation, to move at a pace that our bodies resonate with, to be more planted and committed to a place, to people.
I want to pitch a tent in the things that matter. And let go of the things that don’t.
The wild thing is most things don’t matter. Most things aren’t as sacred as we make them out to be. Our schedule is warped. Staying rooted is an implicit promise to live a life of my values. A life that has a firm foundation in Christ. A life where people mean more to me. Where hospitality is the way I create space to let others in. And the things I have don’t have a hold on me.
One could easily see a life of staying rooted as a romanticized reality. They’re not 100% wrong. There are circumstances that force people to move–family illness/death, unemployment, job opportunities, etc. I suppose, for me, a life of staying rooted counteracts with the cultural value of needing to be everywhere. To be lavishly exploring the world all the time.
I want to cultivate a life that I don’t need a departure from.
I want slow mornings to be a part of my life. More lingering instead of rushing to the next event. Less spending money because I enjoy what I have and I’m content. Living a life that exudes peace and joy and contentment.
Lack of Novelty
For some, staying rooted is agreeing to monotony. A lack of novelty. To that I say, who told us that we needed adventures every second to believe our lives are worth living. I want to fall in love with my actual life, instead of wishing it away for the next vacation. As Annie Dillard says, how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. And part of spending our lives well is embracing the parts that we don’t immediately love.
The regular monotony of our days is teaching us that we don’t need novelty to have a good life. We are learning to be creative in cultivating our own sense of novelty. Getting away from a moment to step outdoors. Looking out our neighborhoods and cities as places to explore versus places to escape. Trying out a new club or activity. Or just letting yourself be bored and wondering at the discomfort in that.
While I’m not yet in a place where I want to settle down for a while, there are small ways that I’ve resisted the temptation to flee: not living out of a suitcase, getting into a new morning routine at home, and decorating like I plan on being here awhile. Staying rooted can be as simple as gratitude for the current moment you’re in or as big as making a commitment to stay in the same place for more than 2 years.
One of the more wild and compelling ways of staying rooted I have heard of is living with your friends. Intentionally planning to all move together and be in community. And I don’t mean as post-grad roommates. I mean, with your kids and significant others, planning to be in the same neighborhood near one another. That’s commitment. That’s staying rooted. And I think that’s incredible in a culture where it’s so easy to pick up and go where the action is.
Ideas for staying rooted
Plant something and tend to it for a while. Listen to the body. Sleep in. Exercise. Have a slow morning. Get outside and into nature. Spend less money on things. Spend more time with people. Get active in community events. Decorate your home and make it inviting. Commit not to traveling far for a few months. Explore your city. Make room on your calendar for connecting with friends and family. Live in the same place as your friends and family.
I hope this idea of staying rooted compels you enough to take an interest in it, and maybe think of trying it out yourself. Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments below!