When people speak of their roots, they are speaking about their history about their past and their culture. But more often than not, they are also speaking of their home.
In days past, a family would live in a home for most of their lives, perhaps even multiple generations living in that same home over a hundred years or more. Those were the days when your grandfather was a farmer, your dad was a farmer, you are a farmer, and you kids and grandkids will be farmers.
I wouldn’t say that they were simpler times, but potentially less hectic and less… contrived. That’s not a good word, but it’s the best word that comes to mind.
My roots in these senses are gone. My home, the only home I lived in for the first 21 years of my live is gone. Torn down long ago. A few years ago, my mom called me. She was very sad that the house she grew up in had burned down. I replied that the house I grew up in was destroyed long ago.
It wasn’t that sad for me. It was a house… and not a very good one.
There’s also the aspect of culture. I have rejected my upbringing in the form of religion. After watching the drama contained in my church, I wondered what a Christian really was. Now I see the “Christian” culture around me and I’m glad that I’m not a part of it. [See this article for a discussion on the real Christian culture vs. the active/speaking Christian culture.]
I never was ‘into’ school. I didn’t go to the football games, I didn’t participate in sports or anything else. I learned in spite of school not because of it.
Now, I’ve left the area where I lived for 33 out of 36 years I’ve been alive. I’ve moved to a new town and new home. And now, we’re planning on moving again, within the same area, but a different house. It won’t be “our” house. I think we’ve pretty much decided that renting is the way to go. I don’t mind. It gives us a lot of freedom and maneuverability.
So, where are my “roots”? That’s a good question. I had intended to talk about the internet being where my roots are. As much as I move, travel, change jobs, or whatever, I tend to keep to the same places on the intertubes. But those aren’t really ‘roots’.
The places I frequent (some of which I have listed in the blogroll on the right) are really cultural or even societal. They tend to be mental. They emphasize my style of thinking rather than culture or history.
I am something of an amateur student of history, so I don’t worry too much about repeating the mistakes of the past, though I do… and don’t we all?
I guess that my roots are more in how I was raised by my grandfather rather than a place or a society or group.
I don’t know. As I said, I had intended to have more of an answer. But after I started writing, I don’t really have an answer.
Maybe roots are an artifact of our culture. But perhaps those roots are holding people back more than helping us. Sure, people want to have comfort and change is scary (ask me, I know this!), but like getting shots or some other process that was once painful that no longer is, perhaps being used to change is more helpful to us than being rooted in the past.
A lot of the truly thinking people I know are radically different from their parents and even more so from their grandparents. This doesn’t mean that their family isn’t important and that they don’t love their family. Much like the innovations in technology, the culture of the person has radically altered, but still family is family.
Roots seem, under this thinking, to be a lot like religion. That comforting thing that doesn’t change and helps us feel good about ourselves. Much like the 40-year-old still tries on his high school letter jacket and remembers the one play he made that won them the game, we keep the familiar. But those people who don’t dwell on the past like that seem to be more likely to consider, to think about things.
People like that understand that comfort isn’t the goal. Feeling good about one’s self isn’t the goal. The goal is to think things through and come up with good, logical reasons for doing/saying things. And making sure that we can also change our minds when given valid reasons and be OK with changes like that.
Wow, this has taken a weird turn. Based on anecdotal and limited evidence, I think this may be a valid comparison.
It bears more consideration.