I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed the past few months. There are various reasons I suppose but one thing is the flux of the city I live in. People come, people go. In church people come, people go. You get to the learn the name of an English language student and they’re gone again. A tourist pops their head in and they’re gone. The city swells up for festivals.
That is the environment.
Then you have the machine/tool addiction. Screen time/sream time. Too many hours spent focused on glass with digital information and flotsam beaming out into the windows of the soul.It takes energy from the eyes that could be spent looking at other things like the waves, birds, flowers, ants. The screen suffocating life from me.
So I feel unsettled. It’s hard to put down roots. I was reading some Wendell Berry in bed last night. He was talking about returning to his native hill in Kentucky after spending time in the bright lights of the city.
‘Before coming back I had been willing to allow the possibility – which one of my friends insisted on – that I already knew this place as well as I ever would. But now I began to see the real abundance and richness of it. It is, I saw, inexhaustible in its history, in the details of its life, in its possibilities. I walked over it, looking, listening, smelling, touching, alive to it as never before. I listened to the talk of my kinsmen and neighbors as I never had done, alert to their knowledge of the place, and to the qualities and energies of their speech. I began more seriously than ever to learn the names of things – the wild plants and animals, the natural processes, the local places – and to articulate my observations and memories. My language increased and strengthened, and sent my mind into the place like a live root system.’
I love the idea of rooting myself in a place. But where is my place? When the place you live is in flux and the environment you ‘swim’ in is in flux how do you put down roots? Why would you make much effort in putting down roots knowing that so much in life is transient?
It’s hard to settle. It’s hard to put down roots.