Recently, the tectonic plates of our family life shifted as our oldest children, our dear twin daughters Eva and Clare, began their freshman year of college. We settled them into their dorm room, floated home on a lake of tears, and began processing what this change will mean for our family life.
They say that a parent’s job is to give their kids roots and wings: a good upbringing and a solid foundation of support, and the ability to go their own way as adults. My wife Cyndi, however, thinks that analogy isn’t quite right, and I agree with her. Our kids certainly need roots, and we worked hard to create a safe, supportive environment in which they could grow up. But wings? Self-determination and mature adulthood, of course. Wings, however, implies that your kids’ leaving is the point of raising them, and while I don’t want our kids living jobless in our basement in their 30s, neither does it seem a given that they should just fly away to their own entirely separate lives. There are plenty of other cultural models and expectations for intergenerational family life that don’t at all conform to the roots-and-wings idea.
I’m much more drawn to the analogy of roots and branches. Branches do go their own unique way, seeking the light. But they also stay connected, both nourishing and being nourished by the trunk and roots. Or even better, I like Dr. Suzanne Simard’s image of the mother tree, nurturing the nearby younger trees – her own offspring and even other species – all of them woven together in a complex underground mycelial network of exchange. To me, these images seem so much more true to what we are coming to understand about interdependence – whether in family systems, ecosystems, or quantum entanglement.
Whatever the analogy, the point is this: we’re made for groundedness, connection, and freedom – all constantly interacting and evolving with each other as our circumstances change. When you think about it, those three qualities are the fruit of meditative practice, as well. Mindfulness can ground us in present-moment experience amidst the storms of life and the chattering of our ego. With mindfulness, we can experience the world through a lens of non-duality, helping us see that we all belong to each other. And mindfulness gives us the freedom to act with skill and wisdom, rather than compulsion and reactivity.
In a few days, we’ll begin our fall meditation classes at the Earth & Spirit Center – a perfect place to get grounded, stay connected, and grow in freedom. We hope to see you, and we’d also be deeply grateful if you’d share these opportunities with those you know, to help us regather and grow our community after COVID-19. Thanks so much!
Kyle Kramer, CEO