Sunday, May 26, 2013

Roots or Wings? Staying or Going?

Borrowing a borrowed concept, I have been contemplating the importance of ‘roots and wings’ lately, as I bounce from work to the meditation cushion;  travel and return to rome sweet rome; facilitate retreats for organisations who want to stop and take stock; and witness loved ones considering leaving jobs, relationships and countries.

Our roots are our connection with ourselves, others and of our place in the world.  Cultivating them gives us a sense of identity, of belonging, of ‘coming home to who we are’.  They are the foundations which keep us grounded, connected and contributing.  They are the relationships with those we love and with the complex and supportive fabric which nourish our inner core.  They give us security and stability.

Our wings give us the ability to reach out far and wide, expand our horizons and venture into new territories.  With them we express our innate curiosity, our sense of adventure and exploration and discover new ideas and opportunities.  They are the means for which we allow our independence and initiative to flourish. They give us flexibility and freedom.

Arguably a balance between the two enables us to fulfil the depth and breadth of our potential.  If we get too focused on our roots, they can constrict and bind us.  Sometimes we just need to uproot and fly off to new pastures and perspectives.  With too much focus on our wings, we can exhaust ourselves floating around and become disorientated and isolated. 

Attempting a balance may be something we do in the moment, or it may be stretched over longer periods, as we find ourselves giving priority to either one, over days, weeks, months or years. 

Some of us have a personality preference for one or the other. I find myself also making generalisations about national cultural differences, such as the strongly rooted collective Italians and flying independent-travelling New Zealanders. (As an aside, the irony is not lost that our national treasure and icon, the kiwi, evolved into a flightless bird -as a result of having no enemies it decided it had no need to fly so lost its ability to do so ;)).  

Going more broadly, perhaps we can also draw on the difference between the eastern philosophy that we are already ‘here’: what we need is within us, and the western perspective, where we are driven to look externally; to go out in order to get here fully. 

In integrating the two, we balance stillness with movement, being with the doing, activity with meditation, solitude with company, introversion with extroversion...

As David Richo said, “in short, we need to get up and go, but we also need to sit and stay”.       

Noticing our preferences, focus and patterns helps us make those choices more consciously as opposed to automatically from a place of habit or fear.

What is your priority at the moment? Staying or Going? Roots or Wings?

Thanks to Jennifer who first introduced me to the concept of ‘roots and wings’, as passed on from Buster whose Mum might have heard it from the quote by Hodding Carter “there are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One is roots; the other, wings” which according to Wikipedia, was borrowed from Henry Ward Beecher
Richo, D, (2002), How To Be An Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving, Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boston, Massachusetts p. 4
Images: photo posted by Eylul on Facebook

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