• Ilan Cooley

Room

Updated: Jun 28

"Room can be a tangible space, or an abstract concept. All living things need the right amount of it, but it is difficult to define, or quantify."

My friend posted a picture of a cute little spruce sapling that has lived under his deck for about three years. He says he might move it so it has room to grow. He knows it’s a gamble. It may not survive without the safety of its current surroundings. There is a fine line between transplanting and uprooting.


We are all a little bit like that tiny tree. We don’t often think about whether or not we are in an ideal environment. We are resilient, and adaptive, and we can survive almost anywhere, even if we are not in the perfect place. Sometimes, we aren’t even aware there is a somewhere better. We simply grow where we are planted.


This past year many of us were forced to stay put. It made us evaluate our surroundings, and consider the shortcomings of our current space. The confinement accentuated the positives, but certainly enhanced the deficiencies. They became harder to ignore. That kind of intense reflection reduced the likelihood of plausible deniability. If we are not currently meeting our growth potential, it is probably evident.


I have a great life, and very little to complain about. Even so, the pandemic laid bare the things I am lacking. After 15 months of being almost completely alone, I cannot deny I do not have all the support I need to flourish. Some things need to be changed if I am going to have the supportive ecosystem for future growth.


My roots run strong and deep, but that does not mean I should stay where I am. I felt a stirring inside me even before the pandemic hit, but picking up roots is a tricky proposition, and the risks are high. You have to cut away from your surroundings carefully. If you dig too fast, or too deep, things can go wrong. The goal is not to uproot entirely.


Transplanting is a safer proposition. It gives you the best chance to survive, and even thrive. If we are mindful and vigilent, we will find ourselves in optimal surroundings. Somewhere with room.


Room can be a tangible space, or an abstract concept. All living things need the right amount of it, but it is difficult to define, or quantify. Some people have an abundance, and some have next to none. Some are able to share it, while others go it alone. There is no one right way to fill our space on this planet, but we all deserve a chance to flourish. Hermit crabs do it best — when they outgrow their shell, they simply discard it and find one that suits them better.

If you are in the right place, stay. If you are not, maybe it is time to find a way and go.

Go find room. The room you need to grow.

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