autotelic, autistic, assonance-hole©.

Late Night Ramble: Human family, large and small

I am thinking about family tonight. I am reminded that pride is a selfish and narcissistic thing; that part of “me” that finds “you” have “done” this or that… my ego’s need to get/have [perceived “want” or “need” of the moment] blithely obliterates my compassion, my kindness, and all good intention as it grasps and grabs.

To be certain, I have read, seen, heard, or experienced the various dysfunctions families suffer. As with most humans, I spent more time than I should have trying to avoid the pain of being caught on “what should have been”. Still more time beyond that being angry for “what was not”. All I ever wanted was “family” and as I struggled to try and “get” to “that place” I was blind to how that focus and drive were creating the same feelings and thoughts in what family I have, all of whom are more precious than breath.

A long-lost friend once said to me, “Paths are made by walking.” I didn’t realize until recently that it was a quote. Antonio Machado penned the original, “Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking.”

I have crawled, staggered, and run. I have only recently in life truly understood the beauty and peacefulness of walking. It seems almost pitifully poetic that the very experiences against which I struggled so mightily had so totally captured my mind and its chemistry, that the echoes of dysfunction could not quite be heard or understood.

It takes quiet to hear, and it takes willingness to understand. We do seem to be sorely lacking in both of late.

But, as I think about it, I find that the generational cycle is actually predictable to a degree. It seems to me that people spend their early years struggling to imitate, their young years struggling to be liberate, their middle years struggling to actualize and individuate, and their elder years working to rectify, resolve, and re-mediate.

I lay this series of thoughts alongside what I know about my family and contemplate. I don’t really know that much about my family other than what passed my ears as a very young child and a short, but woefully unsatisfying attempt to explore things on my own via an online outlet whose name you’d recognize.

My mother was young, immature, and rebellious; the daughter of a staunch Baptist music director, one who often (in his younger years) traveled with a well known televangelist. My father was the single, male child of an eldest identical twin, my grandmother; my understanding is that he was in the military, served in Vietnam, and for reasons I am not aware of, was discharged. I’ve never heard if that was honorably or not, but since I’ve never heard, I suspect “or not”.

My paternal grandmother and her twin sister were the youngest of three girls born to my paternal great-grandmother and her husband. My paternal great-grandfather was a master carpenter who began working in the mills of Georgia in the early 1930s. He married my great-grandmother and that’s just about all I know about her family, so I assume there’s story there that I will never know. It is suspected that she was either partially Native American or perhaps even partially African-American, but I find nothing about her whatever, which leads me to think Native American. This also aligns with my father’s insistence that he is half Cherokee, but he cannot prove it “due to records being destroyed”. I believe him (a rarity), and regardless my inability to find any data to support him or myself, I claim the possibility of the heritage and try to honor the tragedy and history of the Native American tribes as best I can.

Once upon a time, there was a family bible with the entire history written in it; but I could never get any of the sisters to tell me what happened to it when grandmother passed away, so that is lost to me as well.

My point in the above being to quickly and simply outline what I know or suspect about my family… to give you an idea of the scope of my concept of “family” in this life. It is an onion, my life. I peel back layers and try to examine things not only as I remember them, but to work on empathizing and understanding those ghosts of personal history.

I believe, feel, and think that the only way to truly find your life’s core meaning and purpose is to enter that exploration without “baggage”. To carefully, mindfully, and respectfully contemplate one’s past from as many perspectives as you can conjure to explain “them” to “you”.

The goal of the effort is not to get you to “agree” with them; it is not to definitively say “who was right”, “who was wrong”, or to divide and allocate “shares” of blame or fault. The goal is simply come to a perspective in which you can understand how or why the experience you remember and relive is but a strand in a much larger tapestry; equally integral, equally singular, and equally unaware of all but it’s own memories and thoughts.

The bittersweet life of humans is rich tapestry, indeed.

All humans are trying the best they know how to have the best life they can manage. The determination of what constitutes “best” is utterly subjective to the individual. Perfect alignment of perspectives between humans on any given concept is a problem area. A willingness to abide peaceably with humans of (perhaps markedly) different perspective is a problem area. A seeming inability of humanity to unilaterally ascribe to humanity that there are basic, requisite rights of humanity is definitely a problem area.

Such understatements should be laughable, but this reality is far from funny. We, as a species, have done a very poor job of caring about these problem areas; worse, we revel in the animal, vociferous conflict between perspectives even as we stridently proclaim ourselves “higher” creatures who, allegedly, use our amazing intellect and reason to consider consequences, recognize and resolve threats in “better” ways than “the animals”… making us “superior” beings who really shouldn’t be called “animals” anymore at all.

We’ve been so busy chasing “progress” that we seem to have left “perspective” in the dust. Human groups are sustained by the degree to which humans agree to value the same things, or the degree to which they can live in proximity to “different” things without feeling the urge to make them “show the belly” or, worse, empowering that urge to contest or renegotiate boundaries of all sorts. “We” must agree or “they” must suffer on our behalf, all due to a variety or reasons that, at day’s end, seem to reduce to little more than fear response to an imagined, but yet-to-be-manifested threat.

Trouble is, threat assessment is a bit skewed of late; partly because there’s money to be made in propaganda and destabilization, partly because the great consumer called “America” has become arrogant and complacent with itself – Both “the government” and “the governed”. Partly because the world of geopolitics and the realities of a global economy continue to collide and churn. Partly because, out of those collisions, that churn, significant entities have found an alignment that enables and empowers corporatism, which candidly, immediately compromises stewards and leaders as well as displacing the individual from the seat of their personal sovereignty.

This churn is, I think, the intersection and convergence of all accessible dichotomies. I anticipate a massive change in the very near future, likely on many vectors. This is the same manner of environment and atmosphere from which the Industrial Revolution was born. Historically, the same may be said for the Renaissance, et al. Indeed, this somewhat viral competition and evolution of ontologies and a reconstitution of ideologies seems to be “our pattern” and, to the degree that is the case, perhaps it is not “bad” as much as it is “different”. [Oh, the recursive hypocrisy of humans!]

It often seems the “discourse” literally devolves from plurality and individuality to perversity and collectivism; “might makes right”, the “because I said so” of ontology, so used to ascendancy, is beset by this churn.

As well it should be, I think. Creative destruction in an extraordinary sense is due. Interrelation and interdependence are concepts that humans seem loathe to engage outside the historical “tribe”. And more often than not, it seems the concept of “tribe” is abjectly failing to support and nourish the greater good of our species.

This is all very dense consideration to me. Most of it is balanced upon my own, faulty memory of studies and papers I’ve seen over the years. All of it is likely rife with errors of perspective (how could it not be?).

But! Since the purpose of this was to spit out what I’m noodling lately, here it is.

More as time and contemplation allows… I hope you are well.