Cousins In a Car

Past Lives and Future Shock

I’ll get to the next leg of the journey home to Wisconsin in a moment but a digression.

As I continue to add to my families ancestral tree I grow ever more increasingly aware and awed by the continuity of life and the filaments, some so strongly imbued like looks, and others more gently expressed like temperament and humanness, that populate all of our pasts and pave our paths into the future.

We are, at once, the end results of generations before and the singular, present day manifestations of families and histories and stories of the future.  We are flickering in the here and now, briefly, glowing like the millions of stars above the New Mexico sky at night, keeping company with lights from distant times and far flung places that we have no apparent knowledge of or connections to.

Yet connected we all are.  To each of these stars in our own family establishments and to each other’s histories and families and firmaments, however far away and long ago they may seem.

Why then do we struggle with so much fervor against each other?

Why do we war? Maim? Libel? Hurt? Disappoint? Disgust? Abuse?

Shouldn’t we, knowing what our own immediate family is to us, know by association what another’s family is to them?

Where is the disconnect?

Where is the connect?

The connect may be as simple as looking into the mirror of our own pasts and understanding who and what and where we come from.

The astonishing age in which we live with its instant access to anything has given us a great gift.  The gift of introspection on a global and virtually immediate scale. The information to, almost without pause, see the direct connections we have to our own lineage and, with that knowledge, to suddenly understand more of who we actually are.

Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, the implications of these connections to our own pasts are startling in both their simplicity and their depth. They at once answer all things…and question all results. We see who our grandparent’s parents were and we then ask further and more and deeper and farther questions.

Where does this path end?  How far back can I go? How far back would satisfy me?

Does my first generation in America make me feel complete?

Does my ancestor who changed their name for whatever reason make me feel whole or, in its sudden knowledge, make me feel less than something I could have been or should have been?

Personally I was compelled to keep going.  Further and further back. With every generation I plumbed I rejoiced as I saw that there were parents to take me one further step back in time.

With every century mark I broke through, 1800, 1700, 1600, 1500, I only wanted more!  It was addictive.

Along the way certain “truths” and realizations popped out.

Names were somewhat fluid, changed by choice, aural disconnects, educational lacking, overall literacy of the populations, a myriad of alterations can and did occur.

Along about the mid 1500’s, mother’s surnames seemed to just vanish, both in the Norwegian and the English trees I’m researching.  It points out the point at which women were really simple possessions and of little value other than breeding stock, unless you were Royal, and then exceptions were made.

It further illuminates the incredible struggle that women then undertook, against amazingly difficult male dominated cultures, to gain their own identities.  300-400 years later women still struggle to achieve parity with men.  It’s a crappy system, in my opinion.

We are all so very inter-related. Princess Diana and I share a common Gr Gr Etc Grandmother!  15 generations back but there it is!  Amazing.

So,  our past bespeaks our present and we create our futures.

With that, we come to the end of Claire’s and my train journey.  We are met inNaperville by our cousins form Maryland, Marty and Andy.

Now I grew up with Marty and Andy, literally a country mile away.  We biked and hiked to each other’s houses, played in the rural countryside of Maryland in the 1950s. We attended family holidays and summer cookouts and, in general, shared our childhood experience as a family.

Claire, on the other hand, grew up in Wisconsin with her two sisters and we actually saw them only as very small children when our grandparents in Wisconsin were still alive and our mothers made that connection.  Other than that, we lived different lives within the same “family”.

I have crossed borders and re-connected with Claire some years back and she and I have been on our own mutual journey of rediscovery and awakening. She and I almost share a birthday, and do share an almost completely identical outlook on life and experience the world in eerily similar manners. Reactions, choices, people, colors……all exact without discussion or comparison. Weird but wonderful.

But this “cousins in a car” thing is all new to all of us.

How will it go?

Stay tuned!

About pdxwiz

Robby is a writer/photographer who splits his time between home in Portland, OR and home-away-from home in Key West. He posts on whatever flights of fancy strike his often restless mind. Stupid media gets his ire up, reflective history makes him happy/sad/wistful, and people always amaze him in any way. Feel free to suggest a topic if, after reading something of his, you feel you'd like to hear his take on an issue.
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