Welcome to A Life Examined

What is the examined life? A life worth living! As I look at the road ahead, I take all the baggage from the past and use it as experience - the pain and the passion, the sorrow and the joy - allowing it to carve wisdom into my mind and hope into my spirit.
There is no experience that can't be useful to me at some point in my life. There is no lesson learned that cannot make a contribution to the future.
A tiny drop of water is a part of the ocean. A tiny speck in the night sky is a ginormous star in the distance. It all depends on perspective.
So, this examined life is to offer reflections in the hope of discussing things which are of value to myself and to others.
Love, Sarah






Thursday, 18 July 2013

My "Perfect" Life - part 8


'DISTANT' COUSINS

I've been chatting about my family as a means to disclose my own journey through childhood.
Today I'm going to digress slightly, and launch ahead to recent encounters with relatives I never knew before last week as a testament to the value of all of our 'intimate' relationships... I'm so glad I've discovered them.

I value family, though growing up in my own nuclear family I felt pretty isolated most of the time. A week ago I went to visit my first cousin whom I'd met only once before. Last week I met his family too. Though his wife describes their family as 'pure soap opera', I'd like to focus on the operative word: PURE.

What a motley crew my first cousin has! First, he's 2+ decades older than I am, which means his children are my age. Add together the fact that he had his children in his twenties and I in my forties, and we get his four generations of family to my two. My son played with my cousin's great grandchildren who are his peers. How bazaar is that? 

It must be neat to be a great grandparent; to watch your children's children have children must be awesome, though unfortunately the contemporary world has brought about family pain through broken relationships and an absence of marriage that has affected the third generation in my cousins family just like it has so many others across the Western world. Nevertheless, this family is bonded. For me it was positively charming to see the love and appreciation they showed toward each other -- and they had plenty extra that spilled over onto my own family. These are honest folk, striving to keep afloat in this economically uncertain time and who are venturing to make their own unique way in the world. I would sum up this family in a word: united.

For some of us, the word family conjures up thoughts of joy, for others frustration, and for still others, pain and heartache. To me, family is meant to represent acceptance, love, and safety. This is what I observed and experienced in my visit to my cousin's last week. 

We are not our family nor our past. Everything we experience forms and shapes our lives, and family - good, not-so-good or indifferent doesn't make us. Sometimes we fit right into our biological family and sometimes we don't. We don't have to. But we do all need a sense of family to give us a sense of connection and relationship. Sometimes family is biological, but often it isn't. From where do you most experience your sense of family?

Social networking provides a sense of family, when we share blog posts; sometimes these conversations are more intimate than face encounters. Church communities share a common bond. Friendships begun in childhood and carried throughout the stages of life are relationships that are familial in nature. These are not substitutes for family but are versions of it.

I have been blessed with a healthy and happy family now that is shaped by where my husband and I have come from. I trust that in two generations of time, the marks of love, acceptance, safety and unity that we share will still be hallmarks in future off-spring. It was wonderful to observe in my cousin's nuclear family the transparency and love for one another. And an affirmation for me that my own family is on the right track.

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