The 7.5 billion people who comprise today’s global population communicate in over 6500 languages. Amazingly, these thousands of dialects can all be traced back to one of only three root languages: Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan, or Afro-Asiatic.
The languages that stemmed from these roots germinated with the influence of environment, politics, religion, culture – nourished and cultivated by the countless nuances of social interaction. To this day, changes continue to occur as societies grow in an increasingly dynamic global environment, but enough remnants of original roots prevail for linguists to trace a dialect’s specific lineage.
Much like language, nature has amazing capabilities of adaptability. As the daughter of a horticulturalist/botanist, I grew up surrounded by plants. When I left for college in 2006, my mother lovingly transplanted a cutting from a houseplant to send a little piece of home with me to the dorms. Some years later, the tradition continued as I moved across the country for graduate school.
I dressed my West Coast apartment with one solidary plant – a pothos, which is very similar to the philodendrons I had long since grown to love for their durability and resilience in the face of what I term my “yellow thumb.”
As the vines of a pothos grow, one can cut the stem below a joint (where a leaf or additional stem branches off), and place the cutting in water. The cutting will adapt to this new environment, and once it grows roots, can be transplanted back into soil.
Five years later, my apartment is wreathed with “floating” cuttings, fully transplanted reproductions, and the same original pothos that birthed them all.
Nestled in my indoor jungle, I am reminded daily of the myriad of ways we can adapt to both sudden and steady change, regrow even after being cut down, and thrive in new environments. One plant can produce twenty, three languages can yield thousands, and one life can impact countless others.
What legacy will you propogate?