Responding to prompts to begin writing down my memoirs, I’ve begun to gather the scattered anecdotes of my forebears’ pedigrees. After all, I carry something of their influence and makeup in my very bones. As I rummage through boxes of diagrams, letters, photos and reference works, what I have been discovering is a theme that was initially unsettling, but now strangely reassuring – the uncanny ability to turn wine into water, or gold into rubble!
One family line emerged from a failed banker at the height of the lucrative Industrial Revolution. Another neglected to patent a device common to flushing toilet systems today (O the irony that would today delight old college colleagues who, after pranking me, had dubbed me with the lasting nickname “Flush!”). Currently we are campaigning and trying to extricate ourselves from a collapsed retirement housing scheme that has become a national scandal.
Is there such a thing as a tribal curse? Are we doomed to play this morose minor key of failure from generation to generation? Framing is so important when assessing such influences.
My line might not be good at business, but we certainly know something about resilience. We know how to make nurturing compost from the dross and ashes of failure. The doomed banking line was the direct cause of the rise of an influential clergyman, a prolific writer whose works are republished over 120 years posthumously to this day. The Australian line of the plumbing enterprise is broad in variety and contribution to the wider community. Dig deeper, and you will find that the traits of generosity, hospitality, and positivity rise above the urge to accumulate. This hidden gold seam runs through all the ancestral stories of my line.
This is why I am reassured, for these are values that my wife and I hold dear, and that will see us through our current housing crisis. It seems to be in our DNA!
3 thoughts on “Standing on the shoulders of those gone before”
Thanks Dennis – I look forward to more!
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So glad to see you blogging again. The sense os standing on the shoulders of those gone before I find both confronting and exhilarating. My great grandmother was illiterate. Is that why Education was seen as so essential for women by my grandmother?
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I recall a workshop hosted by a social science colleague. It was called Constellations where we reflected on our forebears, told a story about them and then acted out particularly appropriate “dialogues” with them. Confronting and exhilarating are words that well describe the experience. Also ultimately connecting and satisfying. Sounds like a dialogue on “education” is already occurring with your forebears?