Monday, 5 June 2017

We are now enough

This post is inspired by the following quote, written by Nora, in a guest post on Lisa’s Life Without Baby:
Somebody related the question of motherhood to a form of immortality, and said it is viable through creating children or something else of lasting value, like art.
Continuing the family line is a common reason for having children, and the feeling that our line ends with us is often a source of grief and loss for those of us without children. I’ve felt it, though I have to admit that (mostly) I don’t feel it any more. The need to compensate for this, ie, through the creation of art or something else of lasting value, is not uncommon, and goes hand in hand with the search for the Next Big Thing. If we can’t be parents, we figure that we have to do something else in our lives that has a similar impact – for a while.

Ultimately, though, I’ve realised how much of this quest for immortality is also all about ego, the selfish (but all too common) desire to have your particular DNA carried into the future, or to see your name at the top of a family tree. And this immortality only lasts for one or two generations, but rarely much beyond this. The truth is that what matters is now, and right now, we are enough, we are all enough, no matter what we create.

9 comments:

  1. This fear of not continuing the genetic line is one that is biologically engrained in all of us. It makes complete sense from a biological viewpoint, given that up until very recently reproduction was esssential for the continuation of our species. Hence this loss is painful at a very core level. It's far from trivial and does require facing head-on in order to heal.

    I agree with you on the genealogy aspect. Most people don't remember their great grandparents (or even knew them). There's also the reality that being remembered won't happen for most of us. We just won't have that impact. So if it is important, those goals need to be reassessed. Having a baby isn't the answer.

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  2. A friend of mine, who never met someone to settle down with and never had kids, is often told "Who will take care of you when you're old? Who will carry your legacy?". Her response is always: "Look around you. Very few children take care of their parents anymore, and more importantly - even less do things to remember their lost loved ones. Long gone are the days where a family passed stories or relics of Great Grandpa Bob down the line for 100 years. Your legacy and the people who take care of you as you age are the ones you invest in - and you don't need a biological connection for that. Plan for your own demise, but most importantly - build relationships with people you want to enjoy life with, and they will remember you and be your legacy. Everything is just water under the bridge." I really think she's on to something!

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  3. I had a few years where this bothered me, in my late 30s, but I mostly don't care now. I see that my own dead mother and my dead grandparents aren't talked about or remembered particularly, and most of their stuff is gone now - I have nothing of my mum's, and none of us do anything ceremonial to remember her. I love this: "....immortality only lasts for one or two generations, but rarely much beyond this. The truth is that what matters is now, and right now, we are enough, we are all enough, no matter what we create". Hear, hear; absolutely.

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  4. Another thing to consider is that when you are part of a family, you are on the family tree whether or not you have children. Our family tree goes back eight generations right now -- and I think Loribeth has one that goes back more -- and everyone is on it and remembered, whether or not they had children. Everyone alive nows keeps remember (or, in some cases, imagining because they died before I was born).

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  5. I love that, "We are all enough, no matter what we create." I'm reading "The Next Happy" by Tracy Cleantis, and she had a whole thing on fear of death and how it feeds into decisions to keep going on a dream that's not working or moving to something else. That sense of immortality, of leaving something behind. I agree though, no matter what it's fleeting except for a very, very small few people who live on in history. I like the idea of living for now instead of for the archaeologists or genealogists... :)

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  6. I couldn't agree more!
    Safe travelling!

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  7. I love this! True, we are enough. Carry on writing and inspiring people like me. Thank you.

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  8. In the wryest of ways, I like to think we've evolved to perfection. πŸ˜„

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  9. Thanks Mali. I need to hold this sentiment closer to me. I sometimes battle a flickering drive towards the "next big thing" - I say battle because 1) I know whatever it is it's not going to replace what I lost and 2) I'm not convinced it's not coming from my ego. Whatever I end up doing next, it needs to come from a humbler, deeper place.

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