Where Are YOUR Roots?
It never ceases to amaze me how much the world around us reflects spiritual truths found in our daily lives. Some time back, I was listening to a speaker who made reference to the “taproot”. It was actually the first time I’d heard this word since High School Biology class and frankly, I’d not thought about it again until that moment. Being the kind of person who has to investigate pretty much anything I hear about, I Googled to find out more….and yes…I AM a Googler! I will first explain about the taproot and from there, will get to the point – I promise this is good!
The taproot is the first root to appear from the radicle, (or plant embryo), of a seed – remaining the largest central root of the tree or plant, (which generally grows vertically downward underground the deepest), and remains the single prominent root throughout its life. The taproot has two primary functions: to anchor the tree or plant to the ground and to absorb water, minerals and oxygen that are essential to growth. Plants with taproots are very tolerant to drought, with those in the desert burrowing down as deep at 80ft, enabling them to find life giving water. In addition to this, the taproot is very self-sustaining due to the fact that it stores food reserves and nutrients. Where deep rich soil is found, it contributes to the development of a vertical taproot. Because these taproots go so deeply into the ground, it can be very difficult to uproot, such as is the case of plants that are desired to be eliminated OR relocated.
*It is interesting to note here that the vertical taproot eventually branches out to create secondary roots, followed by tertiary roots and even later will sprout smaller rootlets. After a few years, the primary taproot system changes to a wide spreading fibrous root system with horizontal growing surface roots and only a few deep anchoring roots – but ALL are needed for the health and life of the plant or tree*
Growing from childhood to adulthood, we have to make crucial decisions about things such as: The friends we have and the paths we choose to follow. Most people experience both good decisions and…not so much. As we mature, everyone is placed in a position to question: “How can I have a healthy and productive life?” The answer to this question lies in our own taproot. What I am about to expound upon, using the taproot as the conduit to make my point, is the subject matter of alcoholism. Though I reference alcohol, anything can be used in its place to make this relevant in a personal way to the reader.
For many who have the disease of alcoholism, (in the early days before there is a recognizable problem), something occurs in the mind and body that is different than their peers when consuming alcohol. Some examples of this difference can be seen in that: An abnormal drinker is prone to drink fast, to gain a sense of ease and comfort produced by alcohol – while a normal drinker will generally drink slower, to avoid the strong effect that alcohol produces; When the abnormal drinker feels the effect of alcohol kicking in, they want to drink more – while the normal drinker prefers to slow down or stop drinking; The abnormal drinker develops a tolerance to alcohol – while a normal drinker maintains a low tolerance. Due to the positive results the abnormal drinker gains from alcohol, it becomes for them, a solution for living daily life and all that comes with it. In essence, their taproot becomes rooted in alcohol.
Due to the fact that alcoholism is a progressive illness, more problems will eventually arise in their life, (as is seen in the secondary root system of the taproot), through one or more areas ranging from: physical and/or mental health issues; financial and employment issues; relationship issues with family and friends; and the list goes on. Because of these additional problems and the reality that alcohol is not a solution that will produce positive results in these new areas, the alcoholic will then branch out, (as is seen the tertiary root system of the taproot), rooting themselves in other non-productive solutions such as: Lying; Manipulating; Minimizing problems; Using people; Using other chemicals – often prescription; etc… Usually after months or likely years of this system of living and by the time they realize how unhealthy their life has become, (just as with the taproots), they find it is not so easy to eliminate the problem or uproot from it. The general desire at this point, is for their life to be at a different place than it is, and can often leave the alcoholic feeling hopeless – but thankfully this is NOT the case! Though difficult, (just as with the plant and its taproot), the alcoholic CAN uproot and move to a richer foundation that will produce the life they so desire to have, but it is not going to be easy and is a systematic process in order for there to be long term success.
In recovery the alcoholic will find a rich spiritual environment (soil), that provides a foundation upon which they can become deeply rooted in a relationship with God, (the single vertical well-grounded taproot), and gain all the sustenance needed to develop a firm foundation upon which to build a new life. This is best described in the AA Big Book on pg. 64 where it says: “When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.” Just as the vertical taproot branches out into secondary and tertiary root systems, so too does this occur in recovery, as the alcoholic grows through the use of a sponsor and action taken in the 12 steps – as well as fellowship and service within the home group – Ultimately branching out further into sponsoring others, (rootlets). While the alcoholic continues to maintain and develop their relationship with God through the steps and support, (the deep anchoring roots), there is an outgrowth that occurs through those they continue to help, (like the horizontal surface roots mentioned above) – ALL of which are needed for maintaining the healthy new life that has been gained…for the long run. © 2015-2019 Rebecca Balko
Recovery Dynamics – Master Teaching Book (1988) Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (pg. 64)