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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Limited Uniqueness

Love the DNA

We are all born with a unique blue print, which lays out the basic characteristics of our personality as well as our physical health and appearance...And yet, we all know that life experiences do change us.”
Joan D. Vinge

Most of us, at some point in our lives, like to believe that we are somehow different from our parents—especially if we had a less than delightful childhood. And, no doubt, we are different in that our DNA is a combination of our two biological parents, and all the possible combinations of genetic material they carried. But, let's face it, there is no way we do not carry our parents' DNA, and with it, many of their traits. Likewise, most of us have a parent we'd prefer to be more like than the other one; in fact, we may spend our lives trying to be as different as possible from one, or both. So, it comes as a shock when we hear their words issuing forth from our own mouths, or we look in the mirror and see them staring back at us.

This seems to happen more as we age, perhaps because our clearest image of our parents is what is most recent, when they are, or were older. I grew up identifying with my father, as many girls do. I was a tom-boy, loved to be included in men-only work and conversation, rejected the boring domesticity of my mother's lot in life. I have his hands, his eyes, his attitude, but nowadays, when I look in the mirror, it is my mother's face I see. I spend my days doing many of the things she did, and hear her voice in the inflection of my own. And, what's worse, now I truly enjoy the boring domesticity of her life.

Life experiences change us in many ways—because of my parents' sacrifice, I was able to acquire the education they did not. That led to many experiences that neither of them had. I live more in the wide world, with whole-world ideas and considerations, as neither of them did. Life has added a layer of material to my practical knowledge and understanding that was not available to them. And yet, I am aware of them looking over my shoulder, coaching me, admonishing me, sometimes, giving me a piece of their minds. I carry them with me, because I am made from their material, body and soul. And, these days, I am exceedingly grateful for that.

What about you? Is there a parent you've spent your life trying to outrun? Is it safe yet to take a look at how like them you are? Who do you look like? Who do you sound like? Can you embrace that likeness? Every person, including every parent, has equal measure of good and not-so-good traits. It's only when we can see and love them exactly as they are, or were, that we begin to accept and love ourselves. But, sometimes, we have to crank our hearts open one millimeter at a time.

                                                              In the Spirit,

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