Friday, 20 April 2007

Like thistle spores in the wind....

Rooted.....hmmm, an unfortunate word within the Australian vocabulary. I won't explain it, but the Aussies among us will understand.....

"Roots", of course has other connotations, neither vulgar nor offensive, and it is within this context, that the dear folk at Sunday Scribblings have proposed the word "Rooted", along with its contextual variants, for this weeks writing prompt.

Actually, I really would like to feel "rooted". I haven't felt rooted in a really long while...ten years, in fact. Please allow me to explain.....

My husband works away a lot. The company for which he works, runs its operations internationally, for the most part. As the company grows, so too is the need for positions in new regions. Most of the time he is told, with little notice, that he is to be sent to such and such a base in Whoop Whoop for X number of weeks. We could live with that arrangement, that is the way of the world, according to his particular line of work.

A couple of times though, he has been told, that he was to move permanently to another country, to run a base. Twice this has happened. Twice our world was rocked by such scenarios. Twice it fell through at the eleventh hour, leaving us writhing, depleted, and clutching for something hidden in the nothingness; a strange feeling, especially given that nothing fundamental seemed to have really changed, at all.

Rootedness is a state of mind, but it is also wrapped up in issues concerning identity, belonging and ones sense of stability. One's culture and country, along with the memories connected to those concepts, are generally things that remains firm, sturdy and steadfast, in ones life. That being said, I know this is not the case for all. I have worked with enough refugees and immigrants, to know that country is really just as impermanent as everything else in this life, but for the most part, it is the most enduring and stable of the things and ideas that sway and teeter precariously in our lives. A sense of home is essential to rootedness, birth country or not...we all must feel we belong somewhere.

In 1997 we were told we were going to Myanmar (Burma). We had no choice. I have nothing against the place, but I had just started a path of higher education. Education, at that point in my life, was akin to an inner calling; one that was more to do with healing, than simply learning stuff. Needless to say, the decision to journey down that undulating educational road was not made lightly, so the possibility of abandoning such dreams was thwart with much nonsensical angst. My head was filled with questions, "why now, when this education journey felt so right?" These questions led me on to another path, such as wondering about opportunity, and ideas about that which lays in wait for us in Myanmar; "what if we were MEANT to be there".
The deal eventually fell through, but the process made me question my studies, interests and focus, resulting in me ditching my ambiguously defined Arts degree; two years in, and commencing a Social Work degree instead; a four year commitment.

The first year of my SW degree was fantastic, and I met a wonderful friend at the new university, who I now consider one of my soul sisters. At the end of that first year, the company Ashley worked for, suffered a major contractual blow and laid off a large number of people as a result. Ashley's position vanished from under his feet and he was told the only position for him, within the company, was in Thailand...we had the weekend to think about it, though it was hardly a decision really, it was a forced situation.

For months we made hasty logistical arrangements to leave; letting go of certain things around us. Suddenly, the life we had always known, could not feature within our immediate plans, and we had to try to imagine a different reality.

After four months, and no word of exactly when we were leaving, we were told, once again, "the deal was off", while initially relieved - this degree thing felt constantly under-threat - the company had a dilemma on their hands - what to do with Ashley. This type of uncertainty carried on for a year, resulting in an inability to plan ANYTHING, for we were assured we were being shipped off "somewhere", just as soon as a position became available. It was a most unsettling time, with out lives feeling stagnant and stalled.

In the end, Ashley was re-titled back into the same job that had been made redundant a year before. The same job Ashley had been doing the entire year, in an unofficial capacity. Once again, nothing changed...but I did.

The energy that swirled during that time, uprooted me. I had spent such a long time floating, like a thistle spore in the wind, that I just wanted the breeze to carry me where I needed to go, and lay me down gently on a new patch of fertile earth. I guess I was yearning for the energy that had so violently uprooted me, to run full circle, but I would have to wait another 6 more years for that part in the process to take place.

When the opportunity arose, we applied to move permanently with the company, to Canada; and in doing so, the proverbial monkey was off our backs. I think our little corner of Canada is beautiful. Daily, I stand in awe of my surroundings: the mountains, the islands, the greenery, the water, the animals, but as enchanting as it is here, it actually feels like we are just on one really long holiday. We have no family here. The politics of this country are foreign to me, although I have tried to get into it, the background of the issues are missing, and so I largely feel ignorant to it all. My friends are in Australia, and they are creating lives and families of their own. A dear, dear friend of mine rang tonight, to tell me she had her baby - a healthy boy, her first. I can't believe that I am here, missing such a momentous event. She was the first of my visitors for each of my children, and yet, I am not there, for her glorious moment. Hey, I can't even get into hockey for Gods sake, and it is THE PLAYOFFS (go Canucks!) See, even THAT wasn't convincing. My husband has been terribly homesick; pining for his Aussie rules football and his cricket (yawn). As for me, I am not really pining for anything, other than people.

For me, becoming uprooted was emotionally painful. It could be likened to a young child being ripped from the arms of a panic stricken mother, and never feeling the enveloping reassurance of her loving embrace again. It is difficult to give in and trust being touched the same way, since it felt so traumatic to be plucked from the soil of ones own sense of self, the first time around.

It would be nice to settle and embed oneself whole heartedly into the process of building a life. I seriously want to shout at myself - "for God's sake, GET ROOTED! "

12 comments:

shishyboo said...

LOL - trying to adjust to hearing the word rooted being used in a different context.
I can identify in part with your feelings of unsettledness. It's hard uprooting and moving home however I've found some sanctuary and sense of belonging in the blogosphere which feels a bit odd since it's not a physical destination

Brian said...

It must make you wonder, if you had done something different. A different career, where would you be. I sense such longing for the roots of home. I hope you can become what you want to be, to become rooted, err... planted in the soil of your new home.

Regina Clare Jane said...

What a story- no wonder you feel like you haven't been able to put down any roots...
I do hope that Canada can become somewhat of a replacement for where you really want to be.

Rena said...

You are right--rootedness is a state of mind, but when your life is filled with so much uncertainty, it's hard to give your heart permission to start coming attached. I hope things work out for you!

Ally Bean said...

Rootedness is a state of mind, but it is also wrapped up in issues concerning identity, belonging and ones sense of stability.

I think that is so true. I'd never put it together so well as you did, but now that I read it, it seems so obvious to me.

I'm wornout just reading about all your almost moving around the world. Perhaps where you are now will become the roots you need and/or crave.

Tracey said...

Oh wow, what an amazing analogy and story. And then you cap it all off with aussie humour. 'Get rooted' - that is priceless.

gautami tripathy said...

When we open up our minds, the world becomes our oyster. Sense of belonging can be anywhere.

Great insight in your post.

Scotty said...

Hehe, haven't heard that word in a while...

You gonna tell 'em why an Aussie guy is like a koala?

:-)

strauss said...

Ha Ha Scotty. Nah, I will let you tell them.

Waspgoddess said...

I enjoyed reading your story very much. It must have been incredibly stressful to live under the near constant threat of relocation like that. I think I would have lost it.

Feeling rooted is essential to our well-being, but I don't always feel connected here. My roots are too shallow.

monkeyinabox said...

You better see at least one hockey game while you are there. ;)

Kathleen said...

Sometimes I'm a little sad that my roots run so deep that I've never allowed myself to even THINK about uprooting and going out into the unknown. It is one of the bigger regrets in my life...that I haven't experienced much outside of "home." I envy you your adventures...but certainly not all the uncertainness that has come with it. Wouldn't like that at all!