Looking at the word rootless many perjorative terms associated with our understanding of it pop up. The words, unsteady, vulnerable, fluctuant, hazardous not to mention weak and insecure are used as a parallel interpretation. However there are plenty of instances where being rootless has its advantages and it is certainly a manageable and necessary part of the survival process.
The tumbleweeds, the feathery dandelion seeds and the fluttering leaves are all part of the living process to starting a new existence. Yes we can easily identify with the established plants, the scented rose, the strongly rooted oak tree, the whispering frons of the waterside willows in life’s metaphorical journey.
The moments in our life cycle where the invisible roots are ready to take hold at a later stage, are invariably stepping stones. The parts of the process (without the roots) are referred to as immature, wobbly and unreliable. Gosh these are the often terms we use for teenagers, artists, new playwrights, travellers, mad scientists carrying out experiments. Invariably it’s those who bravely attempt to break new ground whether consciously or not or take a recalcitrant attitude. A stepping stone to something as yet immeasurable.
Rootlessness is a transient situation as is having roots; which in our human timescale takes and lasts much, much longer continuing on after our death and by default merits a positive terminology? The ever changing media is at times without roots except for the reviewed old shows or the temporary iplayer function not to mention internet; look at our show Girls do Coffee on www.ex-patradio.com for example. Much of it lives in the moment.
So why the perjorative understanding for ‘rootless’? Temporary. Unreliable. We want security as we hazard the maze of everyday questions, sorrows and delights. We want confirmation that the choices made were the best, whilst continually searching for an embrace to say we are good and morally upright. However in our paradox we also know that much of which is important remains almost invisible against measurement.
Where is this taking us?
Be aware of the words used in your everyday language. Some are archaic, interesting and belong to a time when values and expectations were very different to today whereas others can be an informative and poetic delight.
Be aware of the words used to describe those who threaten authority, foreigners, intimate body parts whether meant in either jest or denigration to assert power by state or church and watch them flip into the mainstream adjective list.
We often start a reply with, ‘I’m sorry, I’m afraid to say etc.’ Why do we use these terms? Is it to show humility, appease either a potential disgruntlement, rockable boat or conventional poor habit?
Last week I helped my mother move to a retirement home. The home is not far from where she was born just before the start of WWII .
She travelled the world, lived in lands afar and has unexpectedly returned to her ‘formative roots’ to enjoy the closing chapter.
There is a comfort to be had in the easily recognisable streets and pluckable personal history that my mother can access in this town.
Some of us, on the other hand, will have a history consisting of a state of being with those potential or unnecessary roots. Often known referred to as quintisentially ‘rootless’. Nonetheless it too is a life in process, one of equal drama and merit; important and visible when you see my mother’s daughter.
Gwen Jenner – www.gwenjenner.com