When a Tumbleweed Grows Roots: What I Learned Winter 2019

“I grew up transient, with change as my constant. I lived a privileged life in many ways, and benefited from a plethora of experiences denied many of my more settled peers. In fact, I felt competent to handle most of what my spinning world threw my way. It was when the world stopped spinning that I got dizzy.” Dr. Rachel Cason

I resonate with Rachel’s words, because her experience mirrors mine.

I’ve lived on the East Coast, the West Coast and the Mid-West.

I’ve lived in the Middle-East, the Far East and Mexico.

My nomadic life began before I was old enough to decide and continued when it  was my turn to choose.  I developed coping skills for transition, not for rootedness.

And now, my world has stopped spinning.

The first four decades of my life were transitory.

The past ten years I’ve lived in the same state, most of those years in the same house.

Occasionally, I wonder what would happen if we uprooted again.  Occasionally I want to.

Some call it itchy feet, some call it wander lust.

But, it appears this tumbleweed is finally putting down deep roots and coming to terms with it.

I wonder if a case of itchy feet comes from a desire to escape all the pressures and stresses of the life we lead.

I’ve written before about finding and creating community as a survival strategy for nomads.

Two other things help me.

Focus on gratitude.  Sure there’s things you wish were different.  Of course there are stresses, conflicts, tensions, pressures, fears and worries you want to escape.

But, it’s always a mixed bag. There are always blessings, too.

Contentment is the by-product of gratitude when I realize I don’t have to move an inch to be happy.

Escape into Fiction.  Reading has always been my go-to survival strategy.  That applies to transition as well as rootedness.  A great movie can do it, too.  Or even an engaging TV series.  But, my top choice is an uplifting, brilliantly written novel.  A based-on-real-events book can do it, too.

When I’m yearning for a change of scenery, it’s often just the desire to get out from under whatever’s pressing down at the moment.

A good two or three hour stint into the world of fiction takes me away from the pressures of life and provides stress relief.

Parmesan Cheese Lids fit on Canning Jars

This life hack popped up on the internet and inexplicably brings me joy.

I use canning jars a lot, especially for homemade kefir.  I have a couple of white plastic lids that fit on them.  I’m always wishing I had more, but it’s never priority to go looking for them.

Parmesan cheese lids, on the other hand, wander into the house every week or so without any extra hassle.

Take that, Marie Kondo.

 

Sarah Mackenzie                                                     Kate DiCamillo

Emotional connection to a story transcends literary analysis.

Authors don’t write stories for literary analysis. At least, Kate DiCamillo doesn’t.  Sarah MacKensie interviewed the author of Because of Winn Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux on the Read Aloud Revival podcast.

Kate DiCamillo tells of reading a story in elementary school that touched her emotionally and then turning the page to find fifteen questions about the story.  And her heart sunk.  She didn’t want to dissect the story and analyze it.  She just wanted to enjoy it.

Sarah talks about making meaningful and lasting connections with your kids through books.  The memory of a shared experience when you read a book out loud together.

The emotional experience of reading a book that touches you.

That’s what literary analysis ruins.

The emotional connection between the reader and the story.

That sacred magic that happens when you become part of a story.  Tearing it apart and studying it from all sides ruins that magic.

That’s what Kate was trying to avoid.

I’ve never heard anyone articulate this before, but I LOVE it.  Listen to the whole interview here.

So that’s what I’ve learned this winter. Some authors are writing for emotional connection, not literary analysis.  Parmesan cheese lids fit on canning jars.  Tumbleweeds who grow roots thrive when they focus on gratitude and consciously escape into fiction.

What have you learned this season?



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