Is it possible to be rootless? Roots are what anchor you to who you are and where you’re from. And maybe that’s the problem for me, because I am still figuring out who I am. And I have no idea where I am from.

I’ve always dreaded the question, “Where are you from?” that inevitably gets asked when you meet someone new. There are so many ways that I could answer it, but the real answer is “nowhere”.  Growing up in a military family resulted in me having no true hometown, no childhood home to talk about, no place to go back and visit to relive the unfolding of my youth. There were just too many short-term homes to be too attached to any one of them. There was a joke among military wives to never do the finishing decorating touches to the house that you were living in, as that would guarantee that your husband would immediately receive orders to move the family somewhere new. So we lived in a way that was never fully settled, always anticipating the next move, and within a few years it always came.

"Storms make trees take deeper roots." - Dolly Parton

A tree is one of my favorite things. I’ve spent my life admiring the way the branches lift up to the heavens, hold birds, dance in the sunshine and breeze and bend freely, unbreakable in the wind. However, I’d never before given much thought to the root system that supports a tree and enables it to be all of this. Perhaps lacking immovable roots in my own life allowed me to be oblivious to the immovable roots necessary for other forms of life. When I became an adult, in some ways my rootlessness was a blessing. It gave me the freedom to choose any community in any state, to make my home where ever I was. I marvel at the fact that I have now lived in the same community for sixteen years (my prior record was four years), and that my children have each attended only one elementary school (as opposed to the five different elementary schools that I attended).  My children have a hometown, and like the one-hundred year old cottonwood trees that line the ditch behind our home, they too have put down roots that will perhaps support them into the next century.

What are roots then? Are they immovable, non-transplantable foundations that only exist in one place?  Or are they more malleable, moveable things that can even be grown again like the lost arm of a starfish? If roots are not a physical thing or place for me, do I have any? What I realize is that I am rooted to my family; first to my parents and my brother, and now to my husband and our daughters. My family tree is my roots. They ground me to whom I am and who I am becoming, as well as who I was.

Someone once told me that if you are wanting spiritual growth, have human relationships. Our relationships test us to have the intentionality to become who we are, to look at who we pretend to be, to see how we’ve changed and brought (or failed to bring) those who matter along with us. Given that, I am not rootless; though I did grow mine differently than some. For me, roots are more of a foundation, one that can move and evolve, not ones that hold me in place, that will weather any storm that blows my way.


Heather Buck is the Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer at InStill Coaching. She is currently in the process of aligning her life's work with her life purpose. Sharing her writing is a part of that alignment, as it’s how she makes sense of the world and her place in it. You can find more of her writing on her blog Any Moment (Now)

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