Creative writing

What’s in a family?

I pray my ancestors were great people. Horsemen (probably of short stature but with green eyes that looked to the horizon of the Palestine hills) and noble men, Polish servants, Jews, and French peasants, German horticulturists, Persian rug-dyers, Mothers, Fathers, probably a few artists, priests, highway brigands I’m imagining. Please…a Corsican at some point? or a Basque. Speaking a language left over from prehistoric ages.

Kazakhs, I think I’d probably have horsemen on either side of the family and I’m guessing from what my grandmothers have said of some of the ancestry, I’m not missing any ethnicity out. Lebanese/Palestinian orange-growers, Turkish…what? Let’s say Dervishes. I’d like that very much. And to please dad, some Egyptian Pharaohs. :-) I always used to tease that we were the serfs who dragged the stones up to build the Pyramids rather than the people buried in them, but I’d like my nose to be distantly related to Nefertiti.

I read only eighty generations separate us from the time of Jesus Christ. Eighty mothers my friend said to that. Eighty births. Eighty women raising the next generation. Eighty times learning to say the same words in so many languages, possibly some or many now extinct. The last person who spoke this or that language is seemingly dying somewhere at any given time. And we lament this but we don’t even know what goes into our families.

Trace a genealogy, but who were these people? Whose blood courses through your veins? what did they do, what did they feel? And what will stay of us when we die? Is it even important?

Maybe because I feel so desperately alive I want to believe it’s important. That one day the dust of the centuries will have covered me over and my descendents won’t even know I ever existed. They won’t even know my name, or why they have a curling upper lip or a rounded septum that I so wanted to fix with a scalpel. They won’t know this or that is hereditary. They won’t care, really. And who do I owe my hands to? or my temperament? Whose blood is in my veins, which one of my ancestors is most present in me?

In just three generations, no one will know anything of me. No…not three, four. I remember things from my great grandmother. I remember lots of stories, so many. Unbelievable. And of my grandmother. Both of my grandmothers. Enough to fill a book I will one day write. But four generations, there the dust gets thick, doesn’t it. That’s all it takes.

The grandchildren of my grandchildren will never know me.

I think we once had an ancestor who was somehow related to royalty and in the mirror the other day I found the spot of my blue-blood. And I smiled at how little I know of that blood in my veins. All my ancestors in snowed-in countrysides and desert sandstorms. All my great grand children and their bare running feet. Where this is all leading us is glorious, probably and where we’ve come from is a long way.

Sometimes, at times like this, it really does feel like we’re all in this together. And that I am in my own little sniffling way, my own little frame, and point of reference, I am a point of confluence for twenty cultures, and eighty generations. I am part of that fabric, a human component of this rich tapestry. And it really feels that way more than ever.

Those times I want to LIVE. And then it only matters how well one lives and how much light one shares, not what we accomplish. But only following our true nature. What is within us. Our vocation. Because it is only the single call within our lonely frame that calls out to us alone, and only we, only I, only you can answer that call. And it takes courage sometimes to accept who you are.

But what a tragedy to not live up to that potential. What an ultimate, ultimate tragedy. In then end, whether we live up to our potential and who we are, whether we answer the call of our vocation or live timid un-true lives, it doesn’t ring a loud bell either way. Which makes the recompense easy to forego or the punishment easy to bear.

I used to think that if you did or didn’t follow your vocation it was a powerful knowledge within you. It chimed clearly that you were doing the right thing or not following your true path. I guess a few things happened recently that made me realize that’s not the way it is. An unanswered vocation doesn’t really hurt. Which is even creepier.


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