Tumbleweeds are a form of plant that has an interesting way of scattering its seed. While it starts off in the normal fashion, growing in one place, it detaches itself from the root when mature and dry to start a life of tumbling. Bouncing over the plains and steppes that are its chosen habitat it fires off a scatter shot of seed at each jarring bounce. Salsola pestifera is considered a noxious weed in the United States, an accidental import from Asia, cunningly disguised in the agriculture seed. Pest or not it is ubiquitous as you drive through the western United States. Its traveling is only interrupted by fences, where it gathers, its plant body pressed up like a kid’s face against the glass window of a toy store.
I had occasion to consider the lowly wandering tumbleweed in my trip across country from east to west. I am much like the human equivalent of a tumbleweed, rootless and wandering. In the last six years I have moved six times and this follows the pattern set in my childhood. There is a part of me that longs to settle down and I’m fascinated by those that do, but I wonder if I am capable of the feat. My wandering is most often a form of restlessness. Perhaps I become bored, or maybe I’m fearful of what it means to stay in one place for too long, rooted to the ground like an oak. Will this be all that I am, all that I am to see? Is this one place, this one job, this one group of friends all there is?
Even though I moved six times in the last six years it was all within one town and I had the same job. It’s easy for me to tell you, logically, that I was at the end of the challenges of that job, and that I had no where else to go career wise with that particular company. It was logical to leave at this point, taking me with me an improved resume, but was it really about me being a tumbleweed? Could I have stuck it out and eventually advanced? Should I have bought a house, put down roots?
Can a tumbleweed ever stop tumbling?