Existential Angst

My blog is to honor my father and children that have passed away as I search for meaning in their loss.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Vantage Point in Time

I haven’t posted in a while so I thought I would check in.

In my previous posts I had talked about being more positive and that it was “working for me”. As with any claim, there should be empirical evidence to show that it is correct. Well, I think there are at least two empirical claims I can make for this lifestyle change. The first is that my blood pressure has dropped from 150/90 to 130/75. I haven’t changed what I eat and, until bike season hit Maine, I hadn’t been exercising. The second is that I don’t consume alcohol as much. I’ve gone from a daily drinker to an occasional drinker. I did this because I just didn’t like how I felt, not that I had a drinking problem. Now I feel better than ever, I eat and drink because I enjoy it and it brings pleasure, and not just to feel different.

Even though I have given up my personal history, I have been fascinated with my ancestral history. My personal history is just my beliefs about why I am the way I am. It at best serves as a reminder of what it took for me to get where I am today but more often forces me to serve it and maintain it. It doesn’t want me to change (i.e. “how can I be happy when so many people I love have died. It would be shameful to ”).

My ancestral history is quite different. It wants me to change and be a better person. As I imagine my great grandfather fighting in the Indian wars of 1860’s (on the side of the Indians), and his struggle to make it to Canada, I feel his courage. When I think of my grandfather immigrating to America at 16 because his father died 7 years before and there is no hope for him on the farm so he is trying his luck at the mills in Maine. Both of my grandfathers fought in the World Wars, one in the first and the other in the second. They were brave men.

My fathers-father died when he was very young, just like his father did before him. That brave Indian from three generations ago also lost his father and mother in the war. In each generation the children that had a chance to grow up with a father did better than the children that grew up without one. The lesson is so clear to me that being a father is more important than just my son’s future but to many generations from me. The investment I make in my son for education, helping him start his life financially and modeling the attributes I find so compelling from my ancestors (being brave, taking chances, caring for others and wisely invest your resources) is not just for his sake, but for generations to come. Understanding my history allows me to see myself as a member of a community that spans both time and space lifts me up and makes me better. Understanding where I come from isn’t an attempt to find an excuse for myself, to play the role of being a victim of my past but get a vantage point in time so that I can move forward with confidence.