I am wild bamboo.


Have you ever gotten, or given, a Lucky Bamboo plant?  They make nice housewarming gifts, and add a touch of exotic flair to what might otherwise be a boring workspace.  And they’re hardy, too.  I got my first one 8 or 9 years ago, and it’s still thriving.

But for this post, I’m not talking about the teeny-tiny ones you can get from a florist, or at a shop in China Town.  No.  Desktop-bamboo cannot handle the pressure I’m bringing today.

I’m talking about wild bamboo, because I’ve discovered that it can actually save your sanity.

Or at least make you feel much, much better if you’ve been waiting for something big to change in your life.

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth.  The ironic thing, though, is that for the first five years of its growth, you barely see a thing above-ground.  Maybe a sprout or a little green hair barely poking through, but then…

…after five years of apparent nothingness…


It starts to grow 2.5 feet a day until it reaches approximately 100 feet.  During these 40 days, its growth is so fast you can hear it.

But those five years, when all it had to show for itself was straggly green hair?  It was developing a massive root system that could sustain that 40-day rocket launch.

I swear, this so aptly describes my situation (I’m nearing the end of the metaphorical 5th year) that when people ask me, “Hey, how ya doin’?” I just want to answer:  “I am wild bamboo.  How are you?”

Seriously.  That’s really what I want to say.

The most difficult thing about mirroring bamboo’s growth pattern is that for 5 years all of your effort and exertion is done underground.  In obscurity.  You’re developing like crazy.  Lengthening.  Strengthening.  Traveling great depths into the dark earth, so that your foundation will be able to handle all that fabulous verticality.  But no one topside has any idea what the heck you’re up to.

It is frustrating and lonely.  Because, you know, I’m not actually a tree-plant.  I’m a person (maybe with the social skills of a tree-plant), but a person nonetheless.

There are relationships I haven’t nurtured as much as I’d like.  There are trips and parties I’ve missed.  Phone calls and emails I haven’t returned.  And I feel awful about it.  But I’ve been underground… tending to my roots… my massive roots… because my 100-feet-in-40-days-growth-spurt is coming.  Soon.  I can feel it.

Mmmm.  The light of day.


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14 Responses to “I am wild bamboo.”

  1. Victoria Brouhard Says:

    “…because my 100-feet-in-40-days-growth-spurt is coming. Soon. I can feel it.”

    I know exactly what you mean. I can almost taste it.

    But, man, are those 5 years long and dark.

    I love it when nature presents a metaphor for something I am going through in my life, because then it’s just a little less lonely. And I can believe (at least sometimes) that the thing I’m going through is by design, just the way a wild bamboo grows the way it does. By design.

    Beautiful post!

  2. Christine Martell Says:

    What a relief to finally have a description for what I have been doing! See you in the 100 foot forest.

  3. Erika Harris Says:

    @Victoria – Thanks so much for getting it :-) You know another nature metaphor I love? Molting lobsters. When they grow too large for their shells, bless their heart, the too-small shell completely falls off, and leaves the lobster totally vulnerable and exposed until it grows a new one. Raise your hand if you can relate to that? LOL.

    @Christine – See you there, chica!

  4. Lola Dragon Says:

    What an incredible metaphor! Sometimes it is really hard to persevere through that “lengthening roots” stage, when you can’t see the results yet, and your family and friends don’t understand the hidden work that goes into producing something amazing.

  5. Erika Harris Says:

    @Lola Dragon – “it is really hard to persevere… when you can’t see the results yet, and your family and friends don’t understand the hidden work that goes into producing something amazing.”

    Ain’t that the truth?!

    And isn’t it also the sweetest comfort in the world when the internet serves up Fire-Breathing Kin to remind you you’re not underground alone. *Thank you*.

  6. Niki Wonoto Says:

    Thanks for putting such a beautiful metaphor that I can relate so much, with all of you here, Erika! :)
    Now I really feel that I’m not alone in all my struggle, because there’re many other “wild bamboos” out there, scattered around the world (like me, in faraway country called Indonesia!) .

    I hope in another 5 to 10 years, us the “wild bamboos” will be something of great extraordinary, and very out-of-ordinary, and together, we can do extraordinary things to the world, to show how we’ve indeed been “lengthening roots”, instead of taking only ‘shortcuts’ as many ‘normal’ people usually seems to do! :)

    Thanks for such inspiring metaphor again!

  7. Erika Harris Says:

    Awww, sweet Niki! I love your image and idea of “many other wild bamboos out there, scattered around the world.” It’s true. And knowing that does make the forest feel a lot less lonely. Thank you, my extraordinary friend.

  8. Erika Harris Says:

    P.S. I *LOVE* your song, “Luminaire Cave”. I’m going to e-mail you with an idea about it.

    Your music is enchanting, Niki. Hypnotic, even… taking me to an iridescent place of magic, fairy-dust, twinkling stars… it’s hard for me to describe… cosmic and celestial. Please keep creating your beautiful, healing, transporting music. It’s *obviously* one of the things you were put here to do.

  9. Niki Wonoto Says:

    I’m back again checking ur awesome website! :D
    Aww, thanks for the comments! you’ve made me feel fuzzy and happy :)
    yep, that “Luminaire Cave”, that’s exactly what i want my listeners to feel, when they’re listening to that song..you’ve beautifully described it in words!
    oh! btw what idea do you have in mind with that song ?? please let me know, as i’m curious!
    also, i’ve emailed you on Feb 4 (6 days ago) , and asked you like 2 questions regarding ur website, so u can reply, and also write your “idea” there. I’ll be waiting :)

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