• Michael Stern

The Gift of Being Uprooted


Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

“The gifts the Universe gives often take the form of a collapse. Not just of outward circumstances, but of your own identity. Because your outward circumstances are part of how we answer the question “Who am I?” That emptiness is where something new can come in. But that can’t be an escape mechanism from feeling the full brunt of the calamity as it happens. Because those metaphysical beliefs can also be a way of keeping the transformation at arms length, staying within a comfortable worldview, a comfortable spiritual paradigm.” - Charles Eisenstein, The Gift of Loss

Before I left for my camping trip, I invoked the themes of letting go and being in community.


When I returned, my landlords told me they need to replace all the windows in my apartment, and I would need to find somewhere else to live by November 1.


As I digested the conversation, I noticed two different flavors of my experience:


On one level there was frustration and exhaustion: “I can’t believe this is happening.”


Those faithful companions, Anxiety and Overwhelm, were nearby, looming, threatening.


But on another level, I sensed an invitation.


Creative possibilities that might be exactly what I need in ways I wouldn’t be able to predict or fully understand.


So, I took my own advice: Let go. Be in community.


First, I made a choice: I will trust that if I show up and participate in the process, Life will meet me halfway and provide the resources I need to keep going.


Then, I reached out for support: Beloved community, please help me turn this sudden and unexpected disruption into a gift.


“We seem so far from a world of interbeing, but that can change through crisis, breakdown, collapse. The old story has to fall apart. It could fall apart in one dramatic collapse, or it could be a series of worsening crises, each one of which loosens the hold of the old story upon our psyche.” - Charles Eisenstein, The Root of Separation

The compounding series of crises over the past few months has had a destabilizing effect on many, if not all, of us. (Even if we’re not being made to vacate our home.)


This is not a comfortable or pleasant experience.


Yet many people, myself included, seem to have a sense of an underlying “rightness” to it - something about it feels inevitable, like it needs to happen in order to take the next step of our journey.


I have noticed a recurring thought/feeling that one effect of the whole situation is that I am becoming more “radical.”


The etymological root of radical is radix, which means “root.”


So I’ve been reflecting on roots.


The roots of our social systems. The stories of separation and the resulting paradigm of control that has led to a society plagued by fragmentation, polarization, dehumanization, and exploitation.


The roots of my identity. My core beliefs and values. My family history. The cultural narratives that have shaped my understanding of myself and the world from the time I was born. The self-images that can get in the way of living with authenticity and integrity.


The roots of trees. A deep appreciation for the miraculous intelligence and beauty of the living Earth. And, the grief of being disconnected from the land, and from the associated knowledge, skills, relationships, and sense of belonging. An impulse to get out of the city and into nature, to trade the convenience of a city for the community of a village.


“The presence of Covid-19 and its possible mutations forces us to face our fear, both personally and collectively, in more and more skillful ways, so that it cannot run us, regardless of its intensity. This means bringing the roots of our fear out of our shadow so that we can clearly see them and learn to relate to and work with them in ways that serve the highest good of one and all. This both takes courage and deepens courage.” - Robert Augustus Masters

Identity. Culture. Earth. Home.


Who am I? Where is my place? Where do I belong?


What is important to me? Where do those values come from? Where and how might I be enacting values that are incoherent with my espoused values? What is happening in that gap that I am not aware of?


Here’s what my Inner Coach sounds like these days:


Let go. Be in community.


Relax and release the mind’s tendency to figure it out, predict, and control.


Surrender to Life. Embrace and trust the body’s capacity to feel, to sense, and respond.


Accept the fact that I may not have the clarity to see the way forward right now.


Don’t resist the flow of life as it uproots me from what is false, flimsily constructed, and hollow.


Allow myself to be liberated from illusions of false security, and to be supported by more sacred ground.


Take refuge in that space. Open, and stable - it is the root of freedom and wholeness.


Participate in the process. Trust Life. Keep going.


“Control kills. Connection heals.” - Richard Powers, The Overstory

Whatever challenges and opportunities you're facing right now, know that you are not alone.


In fact, we’re all in it together.


We’re going through a collective initiation, and community holds an essential key for any healthy future possibilities we hope to create.


If you could use some additional support, please reach out.


Or if you’re looking to join a community of curious and committed individuals exploring the intersections of personal transformation and social change, I might have just the place for you.


If any of this resonates with you, reach out. I’d love to hear what it brings up.


© 2016 by Integral Alignment LLC