What have you inherited?
With All Hallow’s Eve, the Day of the Dead, and All Soul’s Day almost here, it’s a good time to consider our ancestors.
We have inherited so much that we often forget how indebted we are to those who came before us…
Your genes hold the physical coding of your mother and father’s lineage passed down to you.
- Perhaps you have your grandfather’s nose or your great-grandmother’s smile?
- Or you inherited a sensitive or healthy immune system…
- I got my mom’s mom’s jaw and my sister got hers from my dad’s mom.
Household items–furniture, dishware and more–are passed down.
- Perhaps your grandmother kept love letters from her fiance–your grandfather-to-be–in that slender bedside table drawer.
- Or canned peaches in those beautiful blue canning jars.
- I’m grateful to be drinking tea from some of my nana’s teacups.
Family attitudes are also woven into who we are today–whether we’ve taken them on or fashioned our identity as a rebellion against them.
- Perhaps there was a strong emphasis on honesty–maybe even in a hurtful way–so you can’t forgive yourself for not telling the complete truth even at an unhelpful time.
- Or maybe going to church was important and now you rebel against it or feel guilty when you don’t attend.
- Or maybe, like in my family, hard work was valued and you have a difficult time not overworking…
Ways of managing the often challenging path of being alive are also passed down–some more, and some less skillful…
- Perhaps you learned from your ancestors to take the edge off with a daily drink or two…
- Or you learned that a quiet walk in the woods was oddly comforting.
- Or that eating sweet treats could soothe your need for connection/love.
- Or, from my parents, that sitting quietly together in the morning by the fire restored a sense of connection.
All of our ancestors strove to survive and thrive.
Amazingly, they did, and they passed their genes, their attitudes, their coping behaviors, and their stuff down to us.
We are here.
We are the result of their surviving, of their whole lives–their attempts to love, to live, to create a good life.
And we have choice as to how we interact with our inheritance.
What and how do we want to live now?
What do we want to re-member?
Because we are literally re-membering–practicing in our bodies what they practiced–when we continue to do what they did.
- Do you want to re-member hurting someone with your words?
- Do you want to re-member an unrealistic ideal of what it is to be a good hardworking person?
- Do you want to re-member habits that are not skillful?
- Or would you rather re-member the goodness of your ancestors when you see their likeness in the mirror?
- Or the love of your grandparents?
- Or the moments of connection?
Whatever we choose, we can honor our ancestors for their perfectly imperfect lives which created the reality of our being alive this Halloween, Day of the Dead, and All Soul’s.
We can take the time to honor their gift of our life.
Dave and I are keeping it simple–we will be getting some photos out, lighting a candle, and spending some time remembering our ancestors together.