Sunday, 22 May 2022

Elevate

Life has been a lot lately, for many reasons. But this past weekend (and there’s a whole day of it left, yay) has been a much needed catharsis and rest.

Mr Turtle and I spent a couple of nights at a higher elevation, at a cabin in the mountains! Silence, trees, birdsong (still a bit of snow, too).





We elevated our minds and hearts and connection with great conversation that was helped by the time away and beautiful surroundings. I also really enjoyed the restaurant at the resort. Because of stress and anxiety I don’t think I’ve appreciated food for a month at least. So it was amazing to just sit in a peaceful place and taste and fully experience a delicious meal. It helped me feel human again.

Before we left town, however, we shared another very special event with our children and extended family:



AJ and Dani and me after their year-end dance show. All their hard work and passion was displayed in a fun and moving performance that showcased all the studio dancers. 

Then - the girls went home with their grandparents and Mr Turtle and I drove off into the sunset for our weekend haha! So fun. Of course everything was planned down to the last detail but it still felt spontaneous to just leave town after the show, still feeling the natural high of joy and accomplishment.

I have been having some trouble sleeping lately and find myself listening to a lot of fake nature sounds (or maybe not fake but from faraway places). So when I was present in real nature I made a point of listening and experiencing all the sounds. I particularly liked this brook on one of the trails we hiked. It was busy chattering away about the coming of spring and the melting snow.



Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Family resemblances revisited

 I'm taking one of those rare things: an sick day where I am not trying to do a bunch of stuff other than be sick. I'm fine, and only moderately uncomfortable, but I don't have the energy for much other than reading blogs. In addition to others, I sometimes read my own blogs.  And today I found this entry, from July 2015, when AJ, only child at the time, was 9 months old.

Family Resemblances

It's a short blog, and the main point is: although my friends and family saw all sorts of resemblances in baby AJ to me and Mr. Turtle and to others, I didn't see any resemblances, and I didn't think it was important.

What was important? 

".....what matters most to me is that I have a child who is her own individual, and becomes more that unique individual every day."

A lot of people seemed to like and agree with the sentiments I expressed in that blog. Which is fine. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Our feelings say something about where we are in life, and the lenses through which we see the world, and that is an interesting thing to try to understand. 

But nearly 7 years later, I no longer feel the same way. In fact, I would say the phase of "it only matters that she is an individual!" was quite short-lived.

Of course, it's great to be an individual. But it's not the only thing that matters.

What changed my mind? Probably the turning point  was my dad's death, just a few months later. In July of 2015 I had no idea he was ill, though the cancer was discovered only weeks after I wrote that blog. Today, I see a strong resemblance in AJ to my dad, and even more so to his sister, my Auntie R. It is meaningful, and it's something I frequently point out to her and to others. I also tell AJ that she, myself and her great-aunt all love to dance. We share that bond across generations. In addition, AJ took sailing camp last year, loved it, and wants to continue sailing. I make sure to tell her that this is something she shares with her Grandpa, though sadly she does not have a conscious memory of him.

As for Dani, right now I see a strong resemblance to Mr. Turtle's side of the family, especially his Auntie O. This aunt and her husband had lived in a different city for a long time. Recently, they moved back, and shortly after they returned, Auntie O invited me to go to the theatre with her. We agreed to meet in the lobby. When I got there, I spotted her immediately. She said: "I wasn't sure if you would recognize me!" I replied, "Actually it was easy: I see your face every day at home!"

I also see something of my mom in Dani. And in one of AJ's photographs when she was 3, I see the smile of my mother's eldest sister, who died at age 11, before my mother was born. It is uncanny, yet comforting. If sometimes ghosts walk with/in us, they are friendly ones.

I don't expect or want AJ and Dani to be clones, physically or in their personalities. There's a reason that humans don't (should never) reproduce by cloning. Each generation has to adapt to a different reality than their parents experienced (however they came by those parents), and each person is uniquely precious and irreplaceable. But, if we simplified this matter to two narratives:

1) I am an individual who  married and individual and who created two more individuals.

and

2) Myself and my children are part of a story that began long before us, and is unfurling in a manner that is sacred, mysterious, and revelatory. We experience our uniqueness, sometimes our solitude, but our lives do not "belong to us" in the sense that we are blank slates. 

Without a doubt, #2 is the narrative I now live by.

How does it influence my decisions?

Yes, I pay attention to the individual characteristics of my children. Do I nudge them towards activities and interests that connect them to their family and ancestry? Yes, I do. When time is precious, will I prioritize the traditions and activities that give them a coherent narrative across generations? Yes, absolutely. And furthermore, I see their longing for this coherency.

"You can have/be anything you want!" is a seductive message. And in a time of plenty (well, for now) it's still a somewhat true message. But only somewhat. I am not just a bundle of individual desires and idiosyncrasies, and I will do my best to teach/show my children that they aren't either. Of course, to do so I go up against a lot of powerful forces who would love for them to only see themselves as bundles of desires, because desire is marketable.

What do I want most of all? Multiplicity with unity, rather than fragmentation. The tree that grows in the shade of the forest, and reaches toward the sun.