Roots (And Wings?)

The word “roots” brings so many things to my mind . . .

When I was a kid watching Fraggle Rock, the only way for one of the Fraggles to find his or her (I’m a little foggy on the details) way out of an underground stream is by “Holding the Roots” of the big tree. This principle was later applied to my always-fine hair which tangled beyond measure. If you held the roots while brushing it down lower, it hurt less.

In grade 8 (8th grade, for my American readers), I read Alex Haley’s “Roots” . . . a book which I should probably read again, because I’m sure I missed most of what it was about when I was 13.

My first retail job was at a Canadian clothing store called “Roots” (you might remember them from our Olympic wear in the late 90s/early 00s). I was frequently told by visiting Australians that it was considered a very dirty word over there. Good times.

When I was in treatment in Utah, I took a pretty picture of this tree’s roots during a mindfulness exercise (accessing this picture was a challenge, as my laptop has died. Hence the lack of blogging of late):

Anyhow. Enough digression. Why the roots, you ask? It’s a long-ish explanation. Feel free to grab a snack.

Lately, people have been sending me a lot of links, etc. as inspiration for rantings here. I search out a bunch, too. Looking back over them (well, mentally looking back . . . they’re bookmarked on my dead laptop), and over many things I’ve ranted about, I realize how many of them are body-centric. For example, this article by Ashley Judd. She talks about how the media has reacted to her “puffy face” of late. It’s excellent, and she makes good points. It’s a great lesson for us all about how we look at and judge others.

But the farther I get from food symptoms in my recovery, the more I realize how little eating disorders have to do with the body. Yes, that’s how they manifest, but the root cause is invariably something else. Millions of people diet because they hate their bodies, but not everyone who hates their body develops an eating disorder. Sitting in support groups, weight and food are seldom the topics of conversation. It’s what we focus on, but it’s not what matters.

What matters in the Ashley Judd article is how humans have learned to treat one another. So many try to steal other peoples’ power to build themselves up. By tearing Ashley Judd down, maybe the people writing the articles feel better about how they’ve lived their lives, and maybe how their changing appearance is affecting them. We believe that, in order to win, someone else has to fail.

There’s been a picture floating around on Facebook that I like very much:


“An anthropologist studying the habits and customs of an African tribe found
himself surrounded by children most days. So he decided to play a little game with them. He managed to get candy from the nearest town and put it all in a decorated basket. at the foot of a tree.
Then he called the children and suggested they play the game. When the anthropologist said “now”, the children had to run to the tree and the first one to get there could have all the candy to him/herself.

So the children all lined up waiting for the signal. When the anthropologist said “now”, all of the children took each other by the hand ran together towards the tree. They all arrived at the same time divided up the candy, sat down and began to happily munch away.

The anthropologist went over to them and asked why they had all run together when any one of them could have had the candy all to themselves.

The children responded: “Ubuntu. How could any one of us be happy if all the others were sad?”

Ubuntu is a philosophy of African tribes that can be summed up as “I am what I am because of who we all are.”

Bishop Desmond Tutu gave this explanation in 2008 :

“One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”


— with Photo Rights: Susan Fassburg of

The root of the problem of our society is, “How could any one of us be happy if all the others were sad?”

Everyone is so focussed on his or her own happiness, that we have all beaten each other down and climbed over carcasses to get to a place of false happiness. We’ve bullied one another, judged each others’ clothes, shoes, etc., excluded people, and abused ourselves and others. If we extend a hand to one another, and all move forward together, imagine what we can accomplish.

It’s not going to solve everything, but I’ve had to realize that there is no magic pill. Take what you can and run with it. The small steps build up and become big steps. Let’s all take each others’ hands and step together.



Filed under Rantings

7 responses to “Roots (And Wings?)

  1. Wow what a wonderful post, Kelly. It’s so true. So many of my early body image memories stem from hearing the words come from someone else’s mouth. A girl in gymnastics told me my “butt wiggled funny” when i ran towards the vault… how weird is that? Certainly, there would’ve been no hand holding and candy sharing on my gym team.

    • We’re so cruel to each other, and really, none of us can call ourselves successful if anyone is failing. I’ll always share my candy with you 🙂

  2. Jane

    Did you go to Center For Change in Utah? Looking into this program.

    • Jane . . . I didn’t go to to Centre For Change (my centre doesn’t exist anymore) but I have friends who went there both before and after I knew them in treatment, and they said it was hard (as if anywhere could be easy . . . ), but helpful. Two of my friends credit it with their recovery success. Good luck with everything. Stay strong.

  3. Geoff Whynot

    Lovely, Kelly. Thanks.

  4. this post is so right on the mark right now…thank you for sharing and for the explanation of that Ubuntu photo that I love so much!!! i will share this on my pages…awesome. xo

  5. Ken

    You are an amazing person. This is beautiful. I will also share the Ubuntu story in my next blog.

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