Sunday, December 4

Some thoughts on tree people

Counting days to return to India! It is a funny feeling.. Tossed & convoluted by jump functions in life, one stays at so many places, develops a routine, makes friends, 'settles' in a new life.. but there is always a place in mind to go back to.. The place, where so called 'roots' lay..

Roots.. funny word :-) Imagine them sprouting out of your toes, breaking the ground and cementing yourself on the spot! Though not a happy prospect, to some extent, we all are such 'tree people'. A generation ago in India, people didnt used to venture much far.. They would grow up, work, live & age in and around the same town.. some hated it.. some loved it.. but there was a sense of fatalistic reasoning in this.. "This is how it is supposed to be, and it is good in the long run" The 'roots' lay deep.. continuous with the land which connects all.. They sustained the happy life, fruitful work, familiarity, sometimes boredom.. Relations were strong, kinship encouraged and ambition subdued..

Now much has changed.. people can now 'choose' with much lesser constraints, where to work, live, whom to befriend and avoid. America is much elder in this tradition. In USA, around 30% population migrates within a decade to far places for work, love or weather. Partly this acts as an efficient labour allocation mechanism; but for the 'tree people', people who need to fix roots, this has been a turbulent ride. Such people face dilemma between next career move and wish to keep family 'rooted', making the children grow up in same school, neighbourhood. And all this while, the neighbours, are becoming more alien & transient. It becomes hard to invest in a relation if it is sure to be short-lived. Similar to an old lady, I met, in an old age home in SanDiego, who told us, that she did not wish to interact much with neighbours, as many of them die, and remind her of fruitlessness & irony of it all.

For a tree, being 'rootless' is equal to being dead, nonexistent; as having roots, staying grounded is a part of its persona.. It is not a choice, but an inevitability, part of personality, a dharma.. Humans are not trees, but we too have set souls, with preordained dharma.. It is wise for us to know it as soon as possible, and stick with it, come back to it. As Gita says, Even though of lesser value in eyes of the world, stick to your dharma, because 'pardharmo', 'any other dharma' is scary.. May we all find our dharma, and have courage to follow it! Perils of freedom of choice can only be countered by clarity of choice; as J. K. Rowling wrote, "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

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