On a recent trip to London I enjoyed one particular evening in a new wine bar in Hackney. Not having lived in England for years, and far removed from the London culture, I was like a child making their first discovery. People were fascinating. For me it is strange to step foot in a country once so familiar, yet feel so removed. A young chap – a patron of the bar, immediately struck up a conversation with us spouting the best wines and urging us to try them. “This one is sublime, enjoy the hint of chocolate and melon, ah yes, and the oaky aftertaste.” As we nodded obligingly he continued, “it’s the roots, the roots go deep into the earth, not the shallow roots of so many vines.” Ah it was the roots we had to thank, not the grapes, the calloused hands of migrant workers, not the fine science of blend and taste, and not the rich energy of the sun.
And so I make a metaphoric comparison to human spirit. If our roots go deep we have history, connection, familial ties, purpose, security, and legacy, good or bad. If our roots barely graze the earth we are young, weak, disconnected, frail, and uncertain. We rely on external factors to give us strength, the energy of people, the tending to by friends, the fine blending of companionship, but the quality of our person whether roots burrow deep or rest on the surface is to be judged only by those who love us and, perhaps more importantly, by ourselves.
Ah London with its ever changing demographic and the most exquisite parks I’ve ever wandered with their ancient oaks, sycamore, beech, and willows, whose roots run deep and whose foliage affords shade. Like a character in a movie, scenes rolled by me, familiar smells and the coo of the pigeons that sent cascades of memories through my blood, my heart, my bile, so I was continuously transported back through time, darting from moments of joy to moments of despair –
Or perhaps it was just the wine and that magical trip is simply stored within my memory to be retrieved on future meanderings, daubed in inaccuracies, but replete with emotion.