My toes are like roots stuck into the earth, forever fearful of being yanked out and placed in a different patch of land. And yet, what a walking contradiction I am. Me, who so loves to travel and explore. Leaving China, the place I had come to call home, was like trying to chop down the oldest tree in the neighbourhood. I was pretty stuck to be honest. I had become so used to the environment there. I knew the changes in season like the back of my hand, I knew which direction the next typhoon would come from, I knew the people on my street and the strangers on the bus, and I liked to buy my breakfast at the same spot and at the same time each and every morning. One day though, I came to a frightening realisation. I was no longer growing. My roots were well and truly clawed deep into that city, my branches only occasionally reaching out to feel the surroundings, before quickly retreating back to the safety of the known.
When we stop growing, we need to make a change in our lives. It’s OK to want a simple, slow life (I definitely strive for that!), but we shouldn’t become so settled that we stop trying new things, stop pushing ourselves outside our comfort zones, stop exploring, stop growing. Being comfortable is easy, so easy. But I don’t think we were put on this earth to feel comfortable all the time. My little roots were nestled amongst a patch of land that was so familiar that I actually came to fear anything new getting close to me, for fear of my soil getting rustled up or my roots getting tangled in the unknown. And that’s when you know. Change. Change your life quick before you gamble away your days living the same old, day in, day out.
It took me a while, but I somehow managed to gather the courage to clamber out of the cosy nest I’d built for myself there and fly to South Africa to put down new roots. It has been four months since I left China, and yet I still feel like my feet are only slightly grazing the surface of the land here. It’s like I’m dancing across the surface, afraid to put my feet firmly onto the ground. Why? I have somehow convinced myself that living in South Africa is only temporary, that soon I will go back to China, slipping back into my roots there like putting on a pair of my old, worn-in slippers after a long day in the snow. That’s not how it works. You can’t just slip back into your old life like that, and you can’t keep flirting with the idea of grounding yourself in a new place. You need to take a moment and commit to your new environment. Some days I wake up and it feels like home. Other days I live in denial about it all, acting as if I’m on holiday here instead of living here. Because it feels easier that way. Because I’m stubborn and not willing to let go of my old life and live fully in my new life. It’s so silly. If only I could convince myself that letting go doesn’t mean forgetting, it just means growing new roots and occasionally dipping into my treasure trove of nostalgia when the urge creeps in. Again, it’s easier said than done. Lost in transition is my go-to excuse on a daily basis.
“I miss China. You don’t understand. I lived there for eight years…”
You get the picture. I’m tired of missing it. I want to hold it in my heart without holding myself back. I want to place my toes onto this South African soil and feel invisible strings pull me down and root me. But only I can do this. In yoga today we focused on the root chakra which is associated with the feeling of safety and being grounded. It’s the chakra that connects us to the earth and the foundation on which we build our life. I can openly say that my root chakra is out of balance. I haven’t felt very safe recently. In the class I struggled to actually get my toes to stay on the ground. They kept poking up and almost hovering above. I had to actually force them to stay put. I’m now spraying my ‘grounding aura spray’ around me as I sit and write today, and I do feel that by acknowledging that I haven’t established firm roots here yet, I’m one step closer to it happening.
We go from cutting ties and uprooting ourselves to being lost in transition, floating in this middle ground, to planting new roots and feeling present again. Whether it be quitting a job, ending a relationship, becoming vegan, moving countries, we all need to go through the transitional phase. And that’s the hard part. Change is actually easy. But it’s the getting there that takes time and patience and discipline. It’s kind of like shutting one door and suddenly being in a long, dark corridor. You need to get to the door on the other side and open it, but the journey there can be daunting and along the way you will come face to face with many of your personal demons. Sometimes it’ll feel easier to just turn back and run towards the space you know, but actually it’s all part of the process and it can even be fun if you let it be. As you get closer towards the door ahead, closer towards planting new roots down, you’ll feel the transformation start to take shape.
And that’s where I’m at today. I feel like I’m on the cusp of opening that door, of pressing my feet down, here in South Africa and accepting that this is where I am, this is the change I’ve been seeking for a long time and it’s now that I embrace it fully. I will always love and miss China and all the other places I’ve been lucky enough to live in and call home, but now South Africa is home once again, and I am grounding myself here, for now. And ‘now’ is all that really matters, right?