This winter, one of the potted plants that I have had for the past eight years could not take the cold out on the enclosed front porch. As the months passed by, I watched as its leaves turned from yellow to brown and sagged sadly downwards. This bright and sunny, brisk, spring morning as I busied myself with my Sunday watering plants ritual – you know, lighting candles, burning incense, and playing relaxing music (the type of music my son calls "alternative to music") – I decided it was time to pull up the plant and bury it in the yard outside. Kneeling down on the floor by the large, green, clay pot it has been housed in all these years, I dug my hands into the soil around it and started to tug at its roots. There was an intense network of them thick and large burrowed down deep into the soil. I tugged with all my might as bits and pieces came up in my hands. Once or twice I almost fell over as the roots seemed to stubbornly dig themselves in deeper the harder I pulled.
As I cleared the pot of all the lingering smaller roots closer to the surface, I realized that moving to a different country, town, or even a new home, feels a lot like the struggle I had with those plant roots. Indeed, it almost felt as if I was pulling the heart and soul of the plant out of its pot where it had resided all these past eight years or so. Each time I transplant a flowering plant or tree I watch as the flowers wilt and sometimes it takes days, even weeks for it to settle into its new pot or spot in the garden. It is a lot like that for me too. Each time I moved between continents or even between states, I found it took days, weeks, and even months for me to settle in, feel familiar and tentatively put down my roots in my new space. Sometimes I felt myself withering and wilting, needing just to sleep or cry until I felt at home again – found the corner store for bread and milk, or the nearest post office to send a card to the people I had left behind again and again.
When Ada died, or sweet little Oscar, there was nothing to pull or tug at.
Silence … and a large hole in the space around.
Perhaps the roots of animals or people are the memories they leave behind, for it feels as if they have burrowed into my brain and heart, and settled deeply there forever …
… or, at least, until I finally slip away.
I received an email response to this post from an old friend, who agreed that I post it here:
A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Healing dimensions: Part IV
Eight years ago at Tamarika: This little yogi went wee, wee, wee all the way home