Saturday, 2 July 2011


There was a time when I believed I could fly. Now I am not sure that even my spirit can take off, I have become earthbound.  I am so much older, perhaps wiser, certainly sensible, and sadly, pedestrian.

Claire Gneccho's recent post on her blog Daily Epiphanies from Gaithersburg was a sudden, very sharp, reminder of something I had long forgotten:  roots are for trees, fetters that bind are for slaves. Mankind must not be fettered, immobile, spiritless. Here is what Claire said:

Sky Walk
Do you ever lose yourself in cloud thoughts?
Surrender to unfettered imaginings
of floating cities and giant causeways,
morphing into what?
Vastness of the Now
They transport us into timelessness
Do you ever feel it so?

I still fall into day-dreams, 'lose myself in cloud thoughts', but that's as far as I go. The dream ends, the clouds become grey skies and I am aware of terra firma under my feet.

I once had a friend, the sort of friend you have because your partners are friends;  we were the same age, from different countries but able to speak each others language and both unhappy for similar reasons; apart from that we had nothing meaningful in common. I don't think we even liked each other very much.

One day Claudine said: "You know, you always seem restless, wanting to leave this place; you say you are tired of being unhappy and that you will try to make a different life for yourself somewhere else. My life is no better, but I have made my bed and  must lie in it.  You should do the same; flitting from one place to another is not what we are meant to do; we must grow roots, strong roots and learn to put up with what is and not hanker for what might be. You will never be at peace that way".

Claudine was wrong. She stayed and I left. I heard later that the strong roots she put down couldn't save her sanity.

To choose flight can be risky. There is a story about a father who takes his son to the top of a tall mountain, shows him the vast emptiness below and says:

"My son, behold what is yours to take. You have wings;  take a deep breath,  and fly."

The son is afraid. "What if I fail and crash?"

The father reassures him: "Even if you crash, you will not be hurt for long. You will acquire a few scars but gain courage to try again. You were born with wings, do not let them wither in fear of the unknown".

The boy consults his friends who advise him to practise by launching himself off a low hill.  The boy crashes. When he complains to his father, the man says:

"To fly you need the space to spread your wings wide. There is always risk. If you want security, if flying is not to your taste, you had better stay earthbound".

Nobody needs to take stories like this one seriously, even young people can choose to live a life as free of risk as is humanly possible, where one step leads securely to the next and the next and the one after that. But how will you ever find out if you have wings if you never try to fly?

I may be earthbound but I still like to think that strong roots are for trees.


  1. I'm not sure it's that simple . Everyone you love becomes a root , surely ?
    So true freedom might mean being totally alone . Too high a price to pay , I feel .

  2. the thing about our roots is we can draw them up when need or desire commands.

    I once had a dream that I could breathe under water. It was so real, so intense that I believed for a long time that I could actually breathe under water.

  3. Hmmm. I put down my transplanted roots on our mountain 36 years ago and they're deep. Removal would be painful. But I don't feel fettered as long as my imagination is free to wander in time and space.

  4. Living that 3,000 miles far from home, a much moving piece inded. Thank you.

  5. I think the issue is WHERE you put your roots. Roots are for nourishment, hold you steady in storms and keep you tall. But, as a gardener, if the roots take hold in the wrong place, you will not be happy or healthy.

  6. These days, moving on to what could be greener pastures is not like it was even 20 years ago when there was no internet and long distance phone calls were too expensive. We can have our cake and eat it too. I live very close to where I grew up. We had been living elsewhere but the opportunity presented itself. I don't regret it. But I'm not stuck here either. We have our adventures when we travel. We are no longer just staying at resorts. And we are enjoying it more too - growing and stretching. Taking chances. My husband has always been a risk taker and has taught me to do the same. It was difficult for him but I'm glad he persevered. I think for those too timid to venture alone, a guide is necessary. Blooming where you are planted is a nice notion but it simply isn't for everyone - and thank heavens for that because there would never be advances without someone willing to step out in faith.

  7. Are those fennel flower heads? And thanks for the lovely piece!

  8. You expended a lot of soul energy
    to uproot yourself from that negative
    environment, and do not fear the
    better stronger realistic root system
    you have embedded in Valley's End.
    As we age, our husk degenerates,
    and we are drawn inexorably toward
    the earth's bosom, from which we
    sprang. As a younger man I used to
    have flying dreams nightly; now my
    feet are on the ground even in
    Dreamland. So, hey, how could you
    tend your lovely garden if you spent
    too much time soaring over the
    Norman ruins?

  9. I don't spend much time in dreamland or in the clouds. More and more, strong ties keep me earthbound - chores, care, work. Sometimes I think that blogging is my way of stretching my wings. That said, I am essentially rootless - as happy here as in any of the many places I've made a home. If I have roots, they are entwined with those of the ones I love because no matter where we've lived, home has been our little circle, not a house or a place.

  10. When I was a child I often imagine that I could fly like Superman. And then I grew up.

    Have a great week :-)


  11. Friko, you do provoke your readers to reconsider our given truths.

    I like what Jeannie and Vicki Lane have commented.

    We can stay in a particular physical place and yet, nowadays, be able to visit many other places and vicariously explore experiences via the web.

    As we get older and get more fully "evolved," it may be more difficult to actually explore new environments. Yet, it's also true that we might be older and then, all of a sudden, we might be thrust into the need, not choice, to explore new situations.

    Guess that it's wise to try to stay nimble.


  12. this is a great write friko and very poignant of my life at the moment...thanks for the nudge...have a great weekend

  13. But then if you look at the seedling and its growth process, the roots are carefully packed in such a way as to transplant it to new spots seeking the best place and space for it....

    I'd like to think that my roots are carefully placed within my heart, attached to those people and things who nourish and feed my needs... transplantable as the need or desire arises.

    Doesn't matter whether my movement is by wings or footsteps, as long as I am able to turn and reach to the sun and the sky...

  14. This reminds me of an apt quote by Ray Bradbury which I rather love. I give it to you, now, my dear Friko:

    'If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.'

  15. A complexity of thoughts in your post today...and so many varied comments which were also interesting to read. Often those roots need feeding to stay happy. As a Pisces, my heart and head are constantly at odds with each other...and I live in the clouds quite a bit while being anchored to my comfortable little world. When given the chance, I would fly.

  16. Fetters do not need to be physical or emotional ties - they can be as ingrained as paths of thought.

  17. I'm still spreading my roots and believing I can fly... The crash is what makes me stronger and more able to take flight the next time.

  18. Well, you stopped me in my (blog)tracks with this one Friko.

    First, from what I have learned about you, I could never use the term pedestrian.
    Secondly, being grounded is not the same as being fettered.
    Finally, as long as we believe that we have free will, then we remain masters of our own destinies.


  19. Lovely post, and I can so relate to this, having been restless all my life and in fear of staying rootless, which to many of us whispers of deeper fears of eventual and ultimate abandonment. So, like you, I have forced myself to be more rooted and to learn to work with and struggle through the restlessness. Am I better for it? I don't know. Like you I've also immigrated from my homeland awhile ago. That too gives one a sense of never quite being home, IMO.

  20. i agree with tabor - its about where you put your roots. If you're roots are dragging you down then you have to know its time to re-plant them.

    I'm not sure that we always have the option though

  21. oh ja, man sollte doch immer bereit sein für das Andere, das Allerhöchste, das Fliegen über diesen Welten, denn Bewegungslosigkeit ist nicht das Ziel des höheren Daseins..!
    Liebe Grüsse Dir und einen schönen Tag wünscht Dir

  22. hello friko! in my own experience, roots don't prevent you from an awareness of your connection to everything. they do prevent you from moving. steven

  23. Lovely piece, Friko, and clearly it touched something in a lot of readers. I especially liked Tabor's comments; there's wisdom there. And Catfish Tales' comment of never quite being home brought back memories. I've found that home, peace, comfort, and satisfaction are resident in friends and loved ones (along as mountains are also in the picture). Thank you for the nudge toward introspection you gave each of us. Jim

  24. I have enjoyed not only your post, but the input of your many readers. I personally think that feeling fettered and rootbound is more a state of mind. It is perfectly possible to feel completely carefree and contented even when ones focus is centred within one place. I think William Blake put it so well, "To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower."

  25. Standing on the fringes, denying uneasy knowledge, may seem atractive to keep the fingertip bruises off the heart, but all that creates its own bruises..FLY.

  26. I started out reading the comments but then I realized there are so many of them, I'd better state my thoughts before they go flying out the window! First of all, you didn't say what species that father and son are, and I pictured an eagle and a fledgling who is afraid to fly. Perhaps he WILL fly if he gives himself to it.

    Plus, as a skydiver, yesterday I spent three minutes flying in the air. Even if it was in a vertical perspective, it was definitely flying. :-)

  27. When I was a child, I once tried to fly off the roof of my playhouse, which once was a farm shed. It didn't go so well, but it didn't keep me from trying again, and again, in other more metaphorical ways. And those have gone quite well, actually. I enjoyed this post, very much. Everyone should attempt to fly at least once. How do we know if we don't try?

  28. I think it depends on the person and their situation in life. For some it's time to move, for others it's time to stay. Movement can be flight, avoidance or denial, and staying can be fear, avoidance or denial. On the other hand, moving can be a courageous step on the path to growth, and staying can be be an outgrowth of determination and maturity.

    There's a scene from a movie that sticks in my mind. An FBI agent pounds on the door of a man's trailer. He's extremely irritated to be bothered, crying out that he is never left alone. he tells the FBI agent, "You see, I've been places." He doesn't say where, but the haunted expression on his face says it all (the actor was Harry Dean Stanton).

  29. We are so grateful to be pedstrian. So many older folk stay rooted to their chairs. The more adventurous have wheel-chairs with engines. Next week a group of them here have planned a picnic by the lake, five Km away. They may be a bit stuck for legs and feet, but they are still mobile and adventurous. Thank you for your philosophical post.

  30. Are we allowed to have both wings and roots? I like knowing that I am grounded in some way to the strength of the earth, yet I enjoy flights of fancy.

    I dreamed for years and years (from childhood through mid 20s) of flying, hovering almost as a hummingbird would. It was such a wonderful dream, and I always woke wishing ....

  31. Once again, you've got us all to thinking and re-thinking. The comments are so interesting, it's hard to know what I can add. I do find that, sometimes, my greatest flights are when I'm sitting in my armchair (or outdoors in the hammock) reading. Other days, it's simply essential to be on the move, listening, looking, walking.

    I love the photograph you've chosen for the post, a perfect image to convey what you are also musing on in words.

  32. I knew I could fly - I flew, so I knew. Now I realise they were dreams, but such wonderful dreams . . . but part of me still believes I could fly. I could also breathe underwater, like a fish, when I swam - or so I thought, and still do, sometimes, but I've lost the courage. Hello? Are those the men with white coats . . . ??

  33. Yes, I get lost in cloud thoughts all the time, but am never in the sky. You have given us much to think on, Friko, and in no way are you "pedestrian"! Quite the contrary.
    There are roots that are shallow, and roots that go deep. One fetters, the other sets free...
    Thank you.

  34. Dear Friko, you will always have the courage to launch yourself from a high ledge on the mountainside. You know that you have done it before and survived. This makes your perspective different than those who never flew. You must be more demanding of yourself because of this.
    It seems to me that discovering blogging was a bit like flying for you. You seemed to exalt in the vistas. I hope that excitement has not worn off.
    More pragmatically: I have a spare room with private bath. Get yourself on a plane and come to visit California.

  35. I definitely have roots, and they are in Germany. However, these roots have never hindered me to "take flight", so to speak. To pack up everything and move to another continent. Here, in this new place, I have roots as well, and most times I am happier than I was in Germany. Because my roots here gave me the strength to do big leaps and take risks. So yes, earthbound, but with very elastic roots.

  36. Hi Friko .. good to meet you and thanks for coming over .. roots are good to have to people and perhaps places if there is that tie there .. but it needn't root us to the ground - we at least can feel free to roam.

    I am rooted to England .. when I was away - there was a need to be back .. there's something that binds, but I feel free to take off again, as long as I can come back.

    Good to see you - have a good week ..Hilary

  37. I choose to fly!!! Happy 4th

  38. I wandered like a cloud a couple of decades, unrooted. Something in the universe (or in my soul, or both) knew I needed roots. We moved to the farm. Growing roots has been about me, what is in my soul. I know now that wherever I am, it is I who am rooted, and it does not have to do with where I am.

    But having connections with people in one place can be very important. We have left so many friends over the years. Our families are our home and our country (as erin recently said). But ultimately, being grounded in the soul, we can do anything we want, I believe, in any given situation. Some will fly, some will stay. (Some will stay while they fly!) If it arises from that soul place, we will know what to do in this given moment.

  39. That is a thought provoking post Friko which your readers enjoyed. I don’t think I have roots - even when I grew up in France I did not have strong roots there. If anything I feel my roots are on the planet rather that in a specific town or country. I have been in, how many now? maybe 50 countries or more, and I feel I left a little “rootlet” if there is such a word in each place – a bit like a cat leave a scent (well not really, that is not a pleasant image…) I do look at the sky often, at the clouds and I travel in my mind to new places where I can leave more rootlets. Even though I live in the same house I don’t feel I stay in it long enough for roots to grow. Whenever a wind comes with images of a unknown place I am ready to go.

  40. With so many comments you will know what a thought provoking post you've written. I will add only a small thought: if you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you always got. Call it 'flying' if you like.


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