Researching an article I’m writing, I read about family patterns through generations. These wintry days, I see evidence in my own family. My parents never considered booking tickets to Florida, as I never considered with my daughters. Hence, we are not a family posting social media images this break from faraway beaches or warmer climates. Money and economics are a piece of this, obviously, but I suspect there’s a wider orientation to the world here, too — which makes me inevitably wonder what it is I’m passing along to my daughters, consciously or not.
In multiple ways, that Socratic phrase — Know thyself — has resurfaced in unexpected places all through my life. Recently, I spoke with a woman about her birth doula. When I hung up the phone and finished a few notes, I stared out my window at a light snow drifting down through the adjacent town cemetery, sparkling in a bit of sunshine that had pushed through overhead clouds. Know thyself was essentially the doula’s advice, an impossible, nearly koan-esque puzzle. How interesting, I thought….
One day he told me that he’d spent his adulthood trying to let go of his past, and he remarked how ironic it was that he had to get closer to it in order to let it go.