When we think of family history, we may think of the amazing things our grandparents did or the number of children our ancestors used to have. We may visualise a family tree with all the branches spreading itself further across a piece of paper. Likewise, when we think of family inheritance, we think about wills and rich people fighting with their siblings over their dead parent’s money.
Lately, I have begun to untangle the braches of a different type of family tree that has been growing within me, and I’ve begun to uproot a different type of family inheritance. When I look into the person who I am now – including my personality traits, my habitual tendencies, my character strengths and flaws – I can trace a lot of those qualities back to my parents, my upbringing and the environmental factors I’ve been exposed to since my childhood. All these combinations of factors culminate to who I am today.
Yet my journey doesn’t stop there. When I look at my own parents, I realise how they have been influenced by their parents, and no doubt my grandparents have been influenced similarly by their parents. The chain continues on.
I accept that not everyone would be influenced by their parents or family in the same way. Some people may be influenced by other carers, by their peers, their environment, their education, their socio-economic situation. Some may be placed in situations that force them to change themselves (for better or worse).
For example, in my line of work, often children are taken from their biological parents, and they’re brought up by other people who may not have any biological connection with them. These children then grow up to be adults, carrying the characteristics of their biological parents, and/or their adoptive carers. Their peers, socio-economic situations, education, and many other factors also add to the branches of that person’s inner tree.
Whatever the factors may be that has led to a person as they stand before you now, the point is to remember that what you are seeing is merely a culmination of countless factors that has led this person to be who they are. Likewise, when you look into yourself, you realise that you carry with you millions of years of history, passed on to you through the roots of your biological tree or carried to you in the winds of your environment.
In seeing this, we can develop a deeper appreciation of each and every human life. We may feel a real gratitude for all the people and conditions that have contributed to making who we are. We see just how precious our life really is, and how much effort has gone into its creation. We see the miracle that occurs each day as we open our eyes and start the day anew.
So this week’s practice is to reflect on the seeds that have been sown in our hearts and in our life, and how these seeds have been watered the right way (or maybe even the wrong way), to produce the blossom that takes place in our life right now. Reflecting on this cause and effect relationship, take a moment to say thanks to all the people and things that have contributed to your success and happiness.
When you have a deep appreciation for the history that exists within you, inspire yourself to know that you are also history in the making. So start, right now, and make history happen.