One of my goals for 2015 is to spend more time writing. Therefore I started the 52 Weeks Project, a project in which I post one short piece I have recently written every Wednesday in 2015.
It sits, perched in a glass vase, a hyacinth bulb in bloom. The roots of the bulb are stark white, completely visible as they dangle in water. The bulb is fat, with peeling aubergine paper that tans and peels at the edges. The stalk grows bright yellow-green from the bulb, darkening to deep green at the edge of the leaves, and a plethora of purple-blue flowers, like dozens of tiny stars, burst from the tall stem.
Like bulbs buried in the ground, our roots often stay hidden under dirt. Each of our roots is a memory, a piece of our past, a regret or a victory. Packed tightly into the ground, surrounded by dark earth, they are safe. These are the roots that feed us, that make us who we are, that help us to bring forth flowers.
There is a part of me that wants to keep my roots hidden deep in the soil. Can I pretend certain ones don’t exist? Can’t I imagine those things didn’t happen to me, that I didn’t happen to them? I don’t want to see that part of me, that uncomfortable bit; I don’t want to think on it, or give it a once over with a fine-toothed comb. But the roots are there. They can’t be detached from.
If I don’t learn from the past, my trials-and-errors, if all I do is scoop more dirt onto the mound, perpetually nervous that my embarrassments or mistakes might be exposed, then I live in fear. We have to allow our roots to boldly shape us.
What if today we sit down and test our soil, decipher its contents, and begin untangling our roots? Eventually we can mix in some fertilizer, add mulch. We could use some fresh water, and air—room to breathe. But for today, let’s begin to look at each root, one-by-one.
Let’s sit down in the garden and dig, just a little. Every day we’ll go a little deeper; the farther we dig, the more tangled the roots will be. And they will be packed, battered and bruised, thinning at the tips. Press on anyway.
If we do, we can test the acidity of the soil. We will find out what nutrients are lacking. We will see the strong roots that helped bring forth so many flowers. When we come upon particularly tender roots, we can pour into them love, kindness, gentleness, and hope. We can remember that each and every root helped shape us. We can let the embarrassment, the anger, the sadness of the roots subside.
With time, our roots will grow deeper, stronger; new roots will emerge. We will expand and multiply, and bring forth many more flowers, more than are even imaginable. But first, we must dig.