Updated: Jul 30, 2021
It was a season in which I was feeling particularly rootless.
My grandparents had just sold their house; the house which felt more like home to me than any other house in the world. Even though I had never lived in it, their small white frame house with the big oak trees had been my happy place throughout years of hopping from country to country. I knew every creak in the floor. I could hear the grandfather clock chiming and taste my grandma's zuchinni bread, slathered with butter, melting in my mouth.
And now it was gone. Sold to a stranger who would not appreciate the fact that the laundry hamper was the best place to hide during games of hide and seek. I hadn't had a chance to say good-bye. It never even dawned on me to buy an expensive plane ticket to say goodbye to A HOUSE. A house I had visited but never lived in. A house that was nevertheless - my home.
And so I sat on the beach looking out over the Big Island's azure ocean feeling adrift. (I know... who cares if you're rootless if you're in Hawaii, right?) I thought of the four countries I had spent the past year in. What was the point of putting down roots only to uproot?
As I walked back to my dorm that day, I passed by a banyan tree. Have you ever seen a banyan tree? These behemoth trees have towering trunks and glossy green leaves. But the coolest thing about them is how their long branches send out roots everywhere. Those roots then grow into trunks which send out new branches which send out new roots which grow into new trunks... and before you know it, you have a banyan tree forest that is one giant, interwoven banyan tree.
As I admired that particular banyan tree that day, it dawned on me: "I am a banyan tree". If I could adopt a banyan tree mentality, I wouldn't have to uproot my heart from the places I cared about. I may not have a house and a job and possessions in those locations anymore. But I did still know people there. I knew my way around. I knew where the best bakeries were. And I still had memories there, some of which I wanted to hold on to.
"Becoming" a banyan tree that day did not un-sell my grandparents' house. I still miss it, sometimes. It didn't change anything, except the way that I viewed myself. I began to feel globally rooted more than globally uprooted. I began to love my myriad of intertwined roots.
Are you a banyan tree, too?