When you sketch a tree, do you show the detail of the branches? Do you differentiate each leaf? Does the trunk rise straight or with graceful curves? Is there fruit? Do you powerfully depict the spreading presence of the roots, penetrating, reaching, nutrifying, stabilizing broad and deep into the soil?
A friend and I spoke recently about the interpretative symbolism of tree drawings. We remarked on the number of trees we have seen drawn or have drawn ourselves without including life-sustaining below-the-ground roots. Roots, we commented between ourselves, are essential to life, but often forgotten or cut short.
Taproots, the deepest primary roots, emerge from the seed. Several of my Ozark favorites such as white oaks, hickories, and walnuts are known for strong, plunging taproots. Others like the red oak and sycamore grow thick heart roots that send out secondary roots to source for water.
Primary and secondary root systems support and influence human lives as well. Genetics. National and regional origin. Family lineage and community culture: from food to core values to employment to generational skill-sharing, and relationship norms. Religious tradition and spiritual ritual passed down and adapted through centuries. Decisions. Habits. Some might be better trimmed back. Others energized and enhanced.
I hold the hypothesis that the deepest, most energizing, and grounding root we possess in today’s increasingly virtualized, technified world is the Core Self in Action, the Heart engaged in creative endeavor, with all the responsibilities, hurdles, connections and joys this brings.
Perhaps like many inherited roots, this vital root of practically Being on Earth, cannot be escaped. Perhaps whether we want to accept its challenges or not, it will eventually sprout and grow in us. However, for those on the path of goal fitness, this essential root is neither forgotten nor a “perhaps.” It is progressively energized and drawn into the picture of a life intentionally lived. A source and result of endurance, it is etched on life’s canvas through healthy choices and active commitment to the Core Self – the Heart Self – and efforts that matter.