I never know if Aussie vernacular is understood elsewhere. I was, in another life, involved in horticulture, so roots were a fascinating part of plant biology, the whole lungs of life, so a normal foray into roots and life. But when I was growing up ‘root’ meant other things or people.
In Australia the term root, singular and plural, is also an old euphemism for sexual intercourse. He or she is looking for a root, or he or she is a good root. It has fallen from regular use among Gen Y and X, there are less earthy terms for them, more direct. Root is now seen as polite, old school, twee.
If you extend to rooted, then something is completely buggered. As in “the car engine is really rooted mate” means that the engine is dead, stuffed, broken.
Whereas in the UK and the US friends talk about being rooted as in being grounded. And that’s what draws me about the word roots, the idea of place, identity, community. An older generation of family in which I was formed spoke of “setting down roots” by which they meant becoming, self-discovery, participating, growing, becoming known, contributing, all that we can be. It was how they saw individuals as making community by embedding in a place and committing to the people in that place, becoming through place and relationship.
In a step further, roots always takes me to ecology in a broad sense, relationships that are critical for all of nature, we are all part of each other in a very real sense of integral relationship, like a giant jig-saw. Hegel, that provocative philosopher, wrote about Geist, a world spirit, taking the Christian teaching of the Spirit of God, and setting it in the context of a movement of spirit between people, nature and ultimate being. So that, for Hegel, Geist is about how all aspects of life connect body mind and spirit. Now that’s being rooted and grounded, and it is a setting down in relationship that has deep implications for our health, for community and for the world. If we aren’t rooted in the world, teh world will be ‘rooted.’