Usually, posts near the end of the year have to do with reflecting back upon the year that was or talk about planning for how the upcoming year will be bold, wonderful, and groundbreaking for you.
I hope your year is bold, wonderful, and groundbreaking for you, but that’s not what has been on my mind.
I’ve been thinking of something very simple.
Dictionary.com gives this definition:
tap root [tap-root], noun, Botany, a main root descending downward from the radicle and giving off small lateral roots.
You’ve seen taproots before. Carrots are taproots. Parsnips are taproots.
Dandelions have taproots and that’s why they are so hard to get rid of. You pluck off the top of the weed, but the taproot remains stubbornly in the ground, ready to create another dandelion seemingly in an instant.
The stubborn taproot
I remember one of my first wrestling matches with a taproot.
I was trying to remove an old, dead shrub in my yard. I dug around it, chopping off the lateral roots. I could feel the shrub give way as I dug deeper and I gave it a tug now and again to see if it was ready to be pulled free.
But something held it down.
Puzzled, I dug around and under the shrub, carefully clearing away any thin roots I saw that were keeping it attached to the earth.
I yanked again. The shrub moved back and forth freely, but still would not emerge from the hole.
Finally, I got out a flashlight, lay on my stomach in the dirt next to the plant and peered into the dark to see what could possibly be holding this shrub down.
Through the dust, I saw it. A root shooting straight down from the plant, easily ten times in diameter the size of the lateral roots.
No wonder I couldn’t pull the shrub up!
In the end, I had to get an axe and chop down and sideways to sever the taproot. When the shrub finally came free, I lifted it over my head, victorious after several hours of work.
The work of the taproot
Then I set it down and looked admiringly at the taproot. It was dead like the bush but, even in death, it had a legacy: a tenacious desire to keep doing its right work in the world. It kept that bush attached to the earth no matter what happened.
All taproots grow down into the earth, not only securing the plant but also seeking out water to keep the plant fed and alive.
And, as the plant or tree sways in the wind, the taproot holds firm and grows even stronger in response to the turmoil above ground.
So, I’ve been thinking about this idea of the taproot and I started to wonder:
What is my taproot?
What is it that holds me firmly to the ground, that seeks out the water of life to feed me, that grows stronger as I sway back and forth in the storms of life?
And, even if I face adversity so difficult that I feel like I’ve been chopped to the ground, what is it that sprouts life within me anew?
If you’ll excuse my poor drawing abilities, here’s what my taproot might look like:
I realized that my taproot isn’t made up of an “it.” It consists of a core group of essential factors that include acceptance, connection, perspective, values, family, and friends.
You can see that my social group – my family and friends – and my values are the largest and most important to me. They are the things that are most deeply rooted and headed for the water I need.
Then come keeping perspective, being accepting, and being in connection with myself and others.
What holds us to the earth
These are the things that hold me to the earth, that allow me to grow again even when I had life all planned out and the pretty flower of those expectations gets chopped off.
These are the things that grow stronger deep within me when I get buffeted by life’s winds.
These are the things that keep me always doing and seeking what is my right work in the world.
These are the things that grow down in me, rooting me, feeding me, and creating a beautiful blossom above.
This is my taproot.
What is yours?
Tell me about your taproot in the comments section.