All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t. Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird
In families, there are difficulties. In families, we argue; in families, sometimes the plates fly; in families, the children give us headaches. And I’m not even going to mention the mother-in-law. In families, there is always, always, the cross. Always. Because the love of God, of the Son of God, also opened for us this path. But in families as well, after the cross, there is the resurrection. … The family is a factory of hope. Pope Francis
What is it about family? We get together for the “holidays” but the chemistry of old is gone. These ancient rites survive simply out of habit. To be honest we can’t stand each other. Interests and opinions diverge to the point where it becomes uncomfortable to spend time together. We pay lip service to one big happy family but we know underneath the façade “what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born.”
We know because down at the deepest level we are that beast. E. O. Wilson said it best:
Humanity today is like a waking dreamer, caught between the fantasies of sleep and the chaos of the real world. The mind seeks but cannot find the precise place and hour. We have created a Star Wars civilization, with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions, and godlike technology. We thrash about. We are terribly confused by the mere fact of our existence, and a danger to ourselves and to the rest of life. (The Social Conquest of Earth)
We all participate in the “us versus me” war. There is no way around it. It’s a built-in feature of our human nature. The “me” predates the “us” and is the stronger urge. It had to be that way or we wouldn’t be here. But, without the “us,” the “me” will self-destruct. Thus, ethics and religion and the law.
So, we trudge along to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, to birthdays and weddings and funerals, and try to make sense of it all. TITM covered this topic in detail in our post “Keeping Peace During The Holidays” where we mentioned our two favorite movies for this time of year (Pieces of April and Babette’s Feast).
Our posts for the next few weeks will be short and sparse as we are furiously working on a novel (Behind The Locked Door) we hope to have published by year end. More on that as we move along. Here are a few excerpts. (NOTE: The photos are not in the book. To preorder the book comment on this post or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
“The clouds were clumped tightly like giant heads of white cauliflower all spread out on a pale blue blanket.”
“People seldom wonder why they wake up each morning and go about another routine day. They abandon themselves to habit. Like the ant, they collect. Like the spider, they spin. They assume they will live forever. Death is not very likely before old age so people fall into the bad habit of living without any sense of urgency. They use their precious time poorly. Like useful bees, some collect, transform and give back. Others, no more than larvae, crawling, wriggling, eating—live in two dimensions and die unchanged from the day they’re born. A few transform and take a single flight before they settle down to live as ants. The lucky ones go through changes like the lowly caterpillar that turns itself into a butterfly and soars into the sky.”
“Few in her village were bold enough to walk alone all the way to the top of the mountain. They believed it was haunted with the lives it had taken. Some who lived in the village said that when the wind blew down from the mountain, they could hear the wailing of those who had died. Bad things can happen on the mountain. It’s alive and powerful and can read thoughts. The mountain watches all life unfold. If you climb the mountain with bad intentions, you will be harmed. It depends on the purpose of your visit. If you go for a good reason, there will be no trouble. If you pray sincerely, something positive will happen. That’s how the spirit of the mountain manifests itself. Itandehui heard about the power of the mountain from her grandmother when she was a little girl soon after she discovered she had been given the gift of healing from Maayhaay.”
“There is a statue of Bruno in Mexico City. Have you been there?”
“No, I haven’t.”
“A shame. Anyway, when I first saw that statue with Bruno’s penetrating eyes, they burned right into my soul. I heard: ‘Listen, listen, if you have an ear. Think, think, if you are drawn. Wake, awake!’ Right then I found my purpose in life.”