This morning my husband Chris and I were meeting with an edible garden consultant (I know, I know - I cringe at the thought that we have to pay to learn how to grow our own food these days, too). Our garden guide was telling us about the various weeds that were encroaching on our modest little garden bed.
He told us that some of the worst weeds are the ones with taproots, and he showed us how difficult it was to pull those up - you usually have to use a tool of some kind. For some reason, the word “taproot” sang a little song in my chest when he said it, so after he left, I looked up what it was.
A taproot is a large root that grows vertically deep into the ground, and it’s the first thing that sprouts from the seed. The taproot goes down into the earth far enough to really anchor the plant, and then smaller roots grow off of it laterally. Then, when it’s time, whatever leaves or fruit the plant produces will sprout above the ground.
A good example of a common taproot is the carrot. A taproot comes out of the carrot seed, bolts down into the earth, and it starts growing. In this particular example, the taproot becomes a large food storage center for the plant, which we pull up and eat as a carrot. If you pull a carrot out of the ground, you’ll see those small lateral roots growing off of it.
As always, the wild has so much to teach us about ourselves, and a question popped into my mind: what if my career was a carrot?
A carrot is intentional.
There’s no “should I or shouldn’t I” happening in a carrot seed when it’s put into the ground. It knows what it is, and it puts all of its energy into becoming the fullest version of itself.
This is a message that keeps coming up for me lately, most recently from my friend Susan Clark of heartspark. She wrote in a recent newsletter:
The only way to get what you really want is to know what it is.
The only way to know what you really want is to know who you are.
If the carrot thought that it was a flower, it would be really confused and keep trying to put out shallow, longer roots when in its heart, it knew that it needed to go deeper. A carrot knows what it is, and it knows what it isn’t. That makes it easy for it to ask for - and receive - what it needs from the climate around it.
How many of us are carrots who really just want to grow deep into the ground but are told that we should be satisfied with a few outstretched roots right below the surface?
In my previous working life, I had very shallow roots. I thought the things that would nourish me were status, power, and a sense of importance in my organization. Sure enough, my roots weren’t deep enough to sustain me over the long haul, and when the climate got rough, my career wilted.
No matter what we do for work, it can always be a deep and spiritual practice, because anything we give our loving attention to becomes sacred.
As long as we’re intending to be of service to ourselves and to the greater good, our career can always become a healthy carrot.
A carrot taps in as deep as it needs to in order to grow.
It knows when it’s reached the center, and when it’s time to focus on what’s going to grow above the surface.
Have you ever connected to your center? To that part of you that’s empty in an expansive, peaceful way? It’s really important to get there regularly, whether by contemplation, being in nature, or just simply by imagining it.
Like I wrote last week, it’s really important that we get down to basics every day and get into the things that anchor us. From what I can see, there are a lot of professional people in the world who are insufficiently anchored, and that has real impacts in our world.
Scientists learned recently that deeply rooted plants have a major impact on our climate because they’re responsible for storing and moving a ton of water. Without them, our planet would be hurting even more than it already is.
Deeply rooted professionals (and we can all be one) have an important place in our working ecosystem, as well. These are the people who are doing work that you can sense comes from somewhere other than a need to be liked, or in charge, or “successful.” They help keep all of us healthy and functioning.
If your career was a carrot, how is it doing?
Is your taproot deep enough?
Are the things you’re doing above-ground, or externally, feeding your storage centers below the surface?
Personally, I’m still figuring out how to grow into carrot-hood, and even though on some days it feels awful and I just want to be done, I remember this: a carrot can’t help but be a carrot.
As long as we don’t deny who we are, we nurture our deep roots, and we keep reaching for the things that truly feed us, we can’t go wrong.
If you know your taproot could go deeper, or if your leaves above the surface aren’t really helping your carrot grow, I’d love to talk more (in non-vegetablese).
You can set up a 45-minute call with me where we’ll talk about your career so far and where you want to head in the future. If it makes sense, we can talk about what it’s like to work with me, but no matter what, I’ll do my best to make our time on the call valuable.
You can set up that call here, and of course, I’m always around on email: megan(at)meganleatherman.com