On the Comforts of Roots


I think I’m beginning to grow roots.

Long ones, admittedly, permissive of the occasional foray into parts relatively distant—but roots nonetheless.

And I’m enjoying the sensation.

It’s not an entirely foreign one. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, when I’m not wandering I’m burrowing, content to live my life from the reassuring confines of tiny rooms and miniscule apartments (snug little sanctuaries carefully designed, meticulously ordered and scrupulously maintained).

Still, there was constant movement every day—even if it was to merely walk to the classroom or office or coffee shop or gym ten minutes away. There was still the daily sensation of moving through spaces (mine, theirs, everyone’s, theirs, his, hers, no one’s, mine again).

Lately, though, for the last three weeks at least, the burrowing has reached unprecedented levels. The demarcation between home, office, coffee shop and gym has dwindled down to the demarcation between bedroom (home), dining room (office), kitchen (coffee shop) and living room (gym). A ten minute drive to the grocery or cinema now constitutes a major operation (and thereby incites a disproportionate enthusiasm) and further trips “abroad” are justified only if the destination fulfills multiple objectives.

And like I said, I’m savoring the shift enormously.

(I especially like looking up from my laptop, after a particularly involved stretch of work, and seeing the branches of the yucca tree waving in the breeze.)

What I have now is the reward of what, I suppose, the Hungarian philosopher Agnes Heller refers to as “having a world” as opposed to “knowing the world”—a distinction possible only in our postmodern times where one can dine in Paris, shop in Milan, party in New York and relax in Bali without ever truly feeling or understanding what it’s like to live in Paris or in Milan or in New York or in Bali. We don’t stay long enough or still enough for a place to work its alchemy upon us, transforming us by osmosis so that (the) who (that) we are becomes (the) where (that) we live. For the most part, we postmoderns only know the world—we almost never have one. To have one, we must go back in time, to an age where every person had a place and every place was like a person.

But since that way is barred to us (at least for now), we must make do with what we have. And in my case, that means growing roots and tending them—and enjoying the sight of yucca leaves waving gently in the process.

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