How Our Families Influence And Shape Who We Are

Each has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by heart and his friends can only read the title. ~Virginia Woolf

Lately I’ve been thinking about how each of our kinfolk and their past influences who we are as a person.
For instance, when I sit and think about all the different backgrounds that are in my immediate family, meaning my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, I am amazed at the accomplishments, talent and life experiences that are in my gene pool.
I’m the daughter of a hippie that hitch-hiked across country and lived in a commune, but I also have a lot of family members who have served in the military, and extremely frugal grandparents and great grandparents. My mom’s grandparents were raised in the country and knew how to live off the land. My mother’s family are also highly creative and lots of them are self-taught musicians.
My paternal grandpa served in the Navy during WWII and my maternal grandpa was quite diverse, he taught himself to read blueprints and was a success in the coal-mining and carpentry industries. Yet he was also artistic and spiritual, he sung and spent the twilight years of his life as a minister (he married my parents :)).

What does this all mean? Has it shaped who I am?
I think so.
Even though our family influences and genes can shape who we are, there are still traits that are simply ours, that’s what makes us unique. There are also traits or talents that will skip over us or lie dormant for several generations only to rear it’s head at a chosen time. This can be both a blessing and a curse.
For me, there’s one talent I wish I had.
Besides writing, there is one other creative area I have always loved: music. When I say loved, it’s a bit misleading, because it’s definitely not a mutual love. It’s more like a one-sided infatuation.


Let me share a little story with you…

I love music and I’ve always wished I could create it. I sing, but only when I’m in the car. Alone.
I come from an artistic and musical family and the fact that the musical gene seems to have skipped me has always rubbed me the wrong way.
No thanks to my older sister Tawnya, especially. Growing up, she made sure I knew she taught herself to play our Mamaw’s (our mom’s grandma) piano. By ear.
My big sis also played the clarinet in junior high and liked to sing, (when she thought no one was around to hear her, that is).
Now, my sister’s daughter is playing music, and she’s phenomenal. I’m not just saying this because I’m a proud aunt. My niece Heather is also self-taught and plays by ear. She is a lefty, but taught herself to play guitar via a YouTube video at age 14. Pretty cool. And, yet another reason for me to be intimidated and disgruntled that this beautiful gift wasn’t passed on to me.
I’d love to play an instrument and sing for the sole purpose of self expression. I have no desire to be famous, record an album or play in front of a crowd.
I think I’d really enjoy strumming a guitar or thumping out a beat on a pair of drums. Trust me,I’ve tried to play instruments, and while the desire may be there, the talent just is not. Neither is my patience. In the past I tried to learn piano and I’ve gotten really frustrated when I’ve tried to learn a piece and just couldn’t get it right.
Music isn’t like writing, which comes so naturally to me. If a sentence doesn’t sound right, I can say it a few times and as the words roll around on my tongue, I just instinctively know what I should do to make it read a different way. I don’t have to pound my head against my laptop to get it to come out right.
At 31 years of age, I’ve finally gained the insight and maturity to realize that while music may be a universal language, it is one I just do not speak.

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