Giving Voice to Our Roots

How a big change to a familiar landmark reopened my eyes to what really matters — and what needs attention now.

Experience Life editor in chief Jamie Martin

There’s a tree on a peninsula of land on the lake where my family spends time in northern Minnesota each summer. I’ve noticed it in years past because it’s one of few trees on the narrow stretch where we beach the boat on Grandma Rock — the name my children have bestowed on this favorite swimming location. But something was different about it this year.

As we pulled up for the first time this past June, I noticed that the tree was uprooted. Instead of standing tall, it was leaning to one side, its mass of roots exposed, somehow still alive and anchored in place.

Upon seeing that beautiful, tangled mess, I felt a deep visceral reaction — a connection to something that’s typically buried in a deeper part of myself. It was as if that tree, in its vulnerable state, was a visual representation of all that goes unseen, unsaid, unknown, unrecognized and yet is essential to the very foundation of who I am.

Below the surface and beyond the physical aesthetic that each of us presents to and often curates for the world, there is so much more. And yet we often leave certain characteristics, beliefs, passions, longings, and parts of our past buried, concerned about what others might think if we revealed them.

But what would happen if we acknowledged and shared them? I’ve been asking myself this question since reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle, the renowned author and activist who is featured in this issue “Untamed Spirit: Glennon Doyle”.

In her transformative book, one idea she writes about is “Knowing” — the sense of innate knowledge that’s within us and that nudges us toward our truest selves. The problem is that we tend to push down these cues instead of giving them their due attention.

Doyle states that we often suppress these internal messages to help others feel more comfortable — until they become too uncomfortable or too painful for us to continue to ignore.

Prior to the pandemic, so many of us were going nonstop. In our busyness, we didn’t have the time to sit with ourselves . . . and then we did, and it was hard. Some people have referred to this phase as “The Great Pause.”

I’ve personally viewed it as something of a reckoning: an opportunity to get honest about how satisfying our lives really are and what we truly care about. To return to our roots and reconnect with our values and how we spend our time.

As summer has given way to fall, I’ve come to see the tree as representative of something bigger. In finally educating myself about racial injustice — and to be clear, there’s a long road ahead — it’s become evident that so much of our nation’s foundation is rooted in racism and oppression.

Those roots are now more clearly exposed; George Floyd’s killing in late May laid bare, yet again, the issues that have gone unaddressed for far too long.

As a nation, we can no longer overlook the pain, suffering, and loss in BIPOC communities. It’s time for real, lasting change and for more of us to raise our voices, become partners, and stand in solidarity with those who are marginalized.

That is one of our commitments at Experience Life. In this issue and future ones, you’ll hear more from us on the connections between socio­economic disparities and health, anti-racism, diversity, inclusivity, body positivity, and so much more.

Yes, this is a societal issue, but it’s also a health issue — and we’re doing our part to explore the roots of it.

is Experience Life’s editor in chief. Follow her on Instagram @jamiemartinel.

Photography by Sara Rubinstein

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