To know my family, to know myself

July 12, 2011 0 Comments
[D]on’t waste time in taking action toward assuming control of your life. As a general rule, it’s usually better to do something than not do it…we tend to regret what we haven’t done more than what we have.
~Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Non-Conformity

Last week I was presented with a rare opportunity. It took careful planning, reaching out, negotiating, and being open to very sketchy plans. These are things that don’t always come easily to me. But oh, the rewards were so great and more than worth the effort and risk taking.

Through the beauty of Facebook I learned that my cousin Preston, whom I hadn’t seen in something like 13 years, was going on tour with the band whose tour he manages. The tour was taking him to Ann Arbor, Michigan, a mere 3 hour drive from Columbus, Ohio where I live. Since he lives in San Francisco, and travel to the west coast just isn’t in the cards for me any time soon, I knew this was probably the closest we were going to be for the foreseeable future.

A little background. Preston is 8 years younger than I am. Growing up, his family moved around the country quite a bit. Despite that we saw each other at least once a year. Our families were very close, and became even closer when his family moved to my home town for a few years when I was in high school. My relationship with Preston, along with his entire family, was just what you would expect from close cousins, aunts and uncles. He was, and continues to be, a very special person in my life.

Unfortunately, things changed over the years. Circumstances changed. Relationships changed. Life events caused fractures and fissures in the surface of my extended family. Now there are canyons between some family members, vast continental divides between others.

Part of my never ending quest for self knowledge and self awareness includes developing and growing my understanding of my family. Despite the limited contact I have had with my extended family over the past 10 years, I hold on to the fact that they are a part of who I am, that the bonds we share run deep.

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

So last week I packed a small bag, sent an email off to a friend who lives in Ann Arbor hoping for a place to crash, and made the drive north. I had arranged for a babysitter, received loving support from my husband to make the trip and not worry about him and the kids. I didn’t know what the night would bring. There was a very high likelihood that I would not be able to spend much time at all with Preston, that I would spend most of the night alone in some cheap hotel room.

Fortunately the fates were on my side. The stars lined up and the evening was just about as perfect as could be.

Seeing Preston, spending the evening with him while he worked, was simply amazing. He has obviously grown up these last 13 years. He was just a teenager the last time I saw him.

Preston

He has grown into a truly beautiful man. An inspiration. A creative soul following his dreams and passions. An artist. A musician. A beacon of light. It fills me up with pride to know that he is a part of who I am.

Rupa and the April FishesWe sat on the grass and ate falafel sandwiches. We talked and talked about our families, ourselves, our passions, our dreams. We crossed the canyons. I hope we built some bridges.

We listened to the amazing music of Rupa and the April Fishes. I watched Preston dutifully fulfill his responsibilities as tour manager, serious about his work, thoughtful in his actions, mindful of others. My smile grew as the band members said they could see the family resemblance, in our smiles.

There were other wonderful treats in my journey.Ann Arbor Street Ann Arbor is where I went to college and graduate school, so the memories run very deep in the tree lined streets. I made the trip by myself which gave me a new sense of freedom, esteem, and confidence. But by far, the highlight was seeing my cousin, and therein seeing myself with added clarity and love.

I came away from my visit with new resolve. To be in charge of my own relationships. To reach out a little further with my heart. To see things through my own eyes. To listen without judgement. To empathize. To feel. To connect.

Ultimately, above all else, to remain true to myself.

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