Something I didn’t know about Redwoods until reading up a bit more is that their roots only run six to twelve feet deep. Instead of growing downward, the roots of redwoods grow out. They extend hundreds of feet laterally, wrapping themselves around the roots of other trees. When rough weather comes, it’s the network of closely intertwined roots that allows the trees to stand strong.
At a time when many are experiencing loss of community, this is an important lesson.
Much about the current ethos pushes us towards isolation. We move hastily from one thing to the next. We spend a lot of time worrying about our personal brands and working on self-actualization. We fill time that once may have been used to connect with other people staring into screens. None of this is bad, per say. Having a strong reputation, spending time working on personal growth, and using technology can all be important and beneficial. The problem is that far too often this stuff comes at the expense of growing our own roots outward. We get so caught up in our own lives that we forget we’re part of something greater.
It’s interesting to note that the only time you see trees standing alone is when they are in residential or business developments. In other words, when humans planted them. These trees tend not to fair as well as those in nature. They aren’t as healthy and they don’t live as long.
Rather than manipulate the laws of nature—not just in how we treat other species, but also in how we treat ourselves—perhaps we should realize we’re a part of nature and learn from it.
Make community a priority. This can feel like a real practice, because it is. And, like any other practice, if you don’t focus on it then it falls by the wayside. Show up for other people. Say no to superficial networking in favor of quality friendships. Take the time to coordinate schedules. Resist the urge—and it can be a really strong, trust me, I know—to constantly do more in favor of being with important others. This is simple stuff, but simple doesn’t mean easy.
Remember: you’re only as strong as your roots. And one of the best ways to strengthen your roots is to intertwine them with the roots of others.