A friend of mine posted a picture today from their vacation of a tree with aerial roots that drop down and then replant themselves. Eventually those roots become additional trunks for the tree, and with age those roots become indistinguishable from the main trunk. Those additional trunks add strength to the tree. And the more roots and the more expansion the greater the tree becomes, sometimes being able to expand over a great deal of area providing shade and shelter.
That tree is a great representation of us as people. As we grow and encounter other people and experiences we grow additional roots that become every bit a part of us as our original roots. Sometimes we don’t want to keep the roots of the bad things that happen to us, but those roots sprout anyway and forge their way down to mingle with our existing roots. And with each new experience, good or bad, and each new encounter, good or bad, those roots begin to combine with our own trunks and make us stronger than we were before.
The truth is we grow in much the same way with all of our friends and family, and each little moment in our lives is adding to our root system and strengthening who we are as a person. If you’re like me, you wish that you could have stopped the bad roots from germinating and settling into our own root systems. Maybe I thought it weakened who I was. Maybe I didn’t want those roots to be part of who I am. I didn’t want an affair or Bobbie to be part of who I am. I didn’t want a cheating husband to be part of my story.
The roots of who I am though involves all of those things, and everything and anyone else that I have ever had a moment with. Throughout my life the roots of these people and experiences branched out to form my strength. I am comprised of all of these roots, including the one labeled affair and the one labeled Bobbie. While not ideal, those two roots added to all the others have made me stronger and able to provide the giving shade and shelter to others. Those roots have made me who I am today.
And in turn, like it or not, my husband and Bobbie and me all share these roots of each other and our impacts on each other’s lives. They are part of our very existence. The three of us made each other stronger without knowing we were doing so. We are all comprised of each other, twisted and intermingled, eventually becoming one with each other and all of our other things we have encountered in our lifetime.
I can’t say that it took me a long time to come to this reality. It’s actually something that I have known all along. Seeing that tree today and reading the story of it brought it all into a visual I could see and touch. Maybe if humans could visually see that tree and understand that the tree is ourselves, we wouldn’t do half of the things we do, knowing that every single moment, no matter how minuscule, adds a length to our every growing root system and becomes part of who we are forever.
Or maybe we would do those things, knowing that the beauty of who we are isn’t dependent on whether the roots were forged out of good or bad, it only matters that the roots are there.
But, one thing is absolutely certain, you have to know what you’re made of to really know who you are.