The blood that runs through your veins is the same blood that has coursed through the hearts of thousands who came before you. You are the manifestation created by lovers belonging to the ancient world.
My quest to learn more about where I came from has recently become an important piece of both my spiritual and my homesteading journeys. It has brought a realization that my very existence is based on the fact that thousands of people, belonging to eras long-forgotten, united and created life. It is humbling to think that their strength and effort have created everything that I am, and everything that I have ever created.
I can’t help but wonder if my Grandmother, living in 15th century France, marvelled at the thought that her descendant would one day be reaching out in an attempt to rekindle a lost connection, and draw her memory into an age such as ours. When she looked into the eyes of her daughter, I wish I knew if she daydreamed about her 13th Great-Granddaughter, wondering what she would look like, what language she would speak, and if she would grow into a virtuous woman.
During this time, I have also become aware of our disconnection with those who have come before us. When watching historical documentaries, we are entertained, and sometimes even think about what it would be like to live “back then”. But now, after forging such a strong bond with my ancestors, I see those documentaries in a whole new light; now I think to myself: “Grandmother Amelia would have lived in a cabin like that” or “that’s what Grandfather Wilhelm would have dressed like”.
In addition to these wonderful marvels, there is also an awareness of great frustration over all of the things that are left unknown. For instance, what ship brought Grandfather Georg and his family to New York from Germany in 1699? And I’d love to know what it was like for Grandmother Mary to be a registered physician in 1810, and whether she went to school in Wales or Canada.
So many questions are unanswered, and I am learning to be okay with that. It’s not easy to get there in a time when we are raised to believe that everything we want to know is no farther than a WiFi connection away. In many ways, we have lost the mystery of life, and have been numbed by over-stimulation of mostly useless information. Staged television shows being passed off as “reality”, manufactured news updates and ridiculous advertising for unnecessary products have replaced the traditions of oral family history, storytelling and building of self-knowledge. In my experience, even most of the older generations alive today lost touch with their ancestors decades ago, if they even had access to them in the first place.
Our truth and memory is being erased with every day that goes by, yet no one seems to notice or care. It’s devastating to think that the general public places more value on knowing more about the family history of the social elite than they do on knowing where they, themselves, come from.
We are the descendants of the people who created the world in which we live. People who had dreams and goals and drive to blaze their own path. They found the courage to travel halfway across the world to begin a new life in wild, unknown lands. They were child soldiers and teen mothers, working hard and sacrificing everything in order to create a better future for generations to come. Their lives were often cut short by illness, childbirth, accident or even by too much hard work. Their realities were harsher than our minds can comprehend, yet they found joy and love and motivation. There was no safety net to catch them when they failed ~ giving up was simply not an option.
Yet today, the media is overrun with fabricated information, urging the first-world population to be okay with things as they are, suggesting self-diagnoses of any number of manufactured illnesses, whether mental or physical. Then, conveniently, suggesting a plethora of man-made prescriptions to help them cope. Now, it is easier, and perhaps more advisable, to take a pill than to make a change that would put us out of our comfort zone. A population that is so incredibly self-absorbed (and dependent) is less of a threat to the power (and wallets) of the few who control them.
This is a luxury that was not afforded to our Great-Great-Grandmother. No matter how she felt, she got out of bed in the morning and did whatever she had to do in order to ensure that her family was taken care of. She wasn’t given a pill to swallow and a cushion to sit on until she felt better ~ she pressed on and moved forward until she broke through whatever was holding her back.
Prior to the industrial age, the people had a general understanding of the importance of the natural world in their everyday lives. Medicines and food were reaped from the Earth, and fresh air was prescribed to heal any number of afflictions. Although not always worshipped, Nature was appreciated, and was taken care of, for the most part, to the best of the peoples’ ability. They knew that when the land was abused, it became barren, and so, too, would their larders. Rarely in my own historical research, have I seen evidence of a person arrogant enough to believe that they ruled the wild.
In modern society, “man-made” has been granted higher stature than “natural”. People are bred to stay indoors, out of the sun, away from pollen and germs, and even our own pollution. Encouragement to go anywhere outdoors is rare, aside from a designated park or camping establishment (which usually ends with money in someone’s pocket). A connection to Nature would make it harder to justify Her destruction. But to maintain the lifestyle that is considered “civilized”, ignorance of our place in the world is a must, lest we realize that we are killing the very organism on which we live. This bloody sacrifice is done in the name of the “greater good”, of course, because it numbs the pain created by the blurred morals.
We need to go outside, and remember where (and who) we came from. Those who came long before us wanted to leave a legacy that we could be proud of, yet we have thrown it to the side in exchange for fast-food and prime-time TV. We have not created the better world that they envisaged; we have simply mechanized it for our own convenience.
It is time that we took advice from our ancestors, and stopped finding excuses. If we want to make our way in this world, we have got to find the wherewithal to stand up and take the risks necessary to do so. When times get tough, we need to stop hiding under our store-bought blankets, stress-eating a box of preservative-laden cookies, or reaching for a bottle of booze or pills. Instead, we need to do what has been done for centuries ~ rely on our community (to a limited extent), then get out there and get back to work.
Our dreams will not build themselves.
It is a dishonor to the unfathomable efforts put forth, and the hardships endured, by our ancestors to be anything but resilient, grateful and courageous. Everything we take for granted in our lives of luxury has been built upon their backs. They spilled blood, sweat and tears in an effort to create this life for us ~ we must never lose sight of that fact.