On roots.

roots. | kourtney thomas fitness

I’m four-ish months back in St. Louis, and the transitional dust is starting to settle. No matter where you move, new or familiar, it always takes a while. And it has certainly been fast-paced every since setting foot back in Missouri, aggressively working and meeting and focusing on expansion.

That idea of expansion has been, well, expansive, for me. It’s permeating all the areas of my world – personal, professional, community, education, social, physical. Combining all of that, my head and heart have been dreaming big. I had a wonderful conversation with an incredibly wise new friend a few weeks ago that really helped shape how I’m thinking about this, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.

We started chatting, and the usual topic of my torn feelings between wanting to be in Colorado and making the most of my time in St. Louis came up. Wanting to do big things, but fighting with attachment and disconnection all at once. I tried, and failed, to explain how I was feeling like I wanted to put down roots here, but not real roots. Like, not roots that will stay forever, a big old tree that becomes a part of the landscape, because that won’t be the case. Maybe more like a beautiful flower bed, but one that can be uprooted and transplanted to another location when the time comes. Or a smaller shrub?

Clearly, I was struggling to come up with an appropriate metaphor.

The idea is that I want to have an impact locally. I do not plan on hibernating or staying in my bubble. I work online, but the in-person component of what I do is important too. Outside of that, I just want to be involved, and be a part, of the community in this region. It will take time to build all of that, but it’s important to me. That’s the root factor.

On the flip side, I have no plans of staying rooted here. It may be that I always have some connection, but it’s a known that it will not always be a physical location connection. I’d like to take what I build here and transfer that elsewhere. Yes, to another physical community. But also, everywhere. That’s the transplant factor.

My friend listened intently, nodding and taking what I could tell were mental notes. (Full disclosure: this friend is a therapist, and I’m pretty sure she was flexing her pro muscles here. She’s a smart one.) Then, she calmly and succinctly suggested the following:

What if…it’s not either or? What if you don’t have to uproot the tree or the flowers? What if it’s not about transplanting, but allowing the fruits – the seeds – of the tree you plant here to spread and follow you wherever you go?

I sat staring at her dumbfounded, on the verge of tears and/or jumping across the table to hug her face. This is the exact perfect imagery I was looking for to explain everything I was feeling. All. The. Feelings.

This vision gives me the confidence to plant the tree, and to nurture it. I know it will always live here, giving life to the local environment. But its future generations will grow roots in other ground, spreading that life. This imagery expertly captures how I’m thinking of expansion.

It’s not about limiting yourself to planting just one tree, one set of roots. It’s also not about avoiding roots all together. It’s about cultivating and caring for the first tree with love so that it can flourish, bloom, and produce the seeds. Then knowing that the seeds will spread when the time is right, expanding the essence of the original tree. It’s about opening your mind and heart to possibilities in all spaces, trusting that the roots will take hold where they need to, and the seeds will fly on the wind and land exactly where they are supposed to.

And that, despite my tendency toward having a black thumb, is the kind of tree that I am fully confident I can grow.

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