Rosie sat by her guardian watching all the dogs play. She was waiting for her playmate, Rory, who was also her brother from the same litter. They had been playing since they were born. The guardians were siblings who walked them together often. They enjoyed walking in the woods, in the park, along the beach, and in the moors.
Rory arrived shortly but he was not alone. There was another dog with him. His guardian had just adopted another dog, River. Rosie could see the two of them playing, running, and tumbling together, it was a marvellous sight to see. She woofed at them. Both dogs looked up and raced towards her, Rory taking the lead and returning the woof with joyful barks. River hung back a bit, unsure of her. Rory and Rosie greeted each other like usual, sniffing and licking. Rosie then walked over to River, whom she had seen playing with her brother. Rory stood back lazily, as though thinking, “He is safe, fun, and my new friend. He can join the family!”
Rosie sniffed River a bit and licked him on the face. He licked back and started to play together with Rory joining in. Before long, the three of them were running, tumbling, and playing as dogs do. Rosie had her family with her, one natural, another acquired. All were family nonetheless.
No one was born alone. Someone else had to be involved for us to exist. If you are lucky, you grew up with your parents and siblings. Perhaps, you did not know your parents and/or had no siblings. Still, you have friends you consider family. Sometimes your friends are closer to you than your family. You know that you can choose your friends but not your family. Does your family support you, drive you mad, or a bit of both? Can you not wait to see them come or see them go? Do they bring you joy and energy or despair and leave you drained?
Family, natural or acquired, can have a profound influence on you and your growth. It is your tribe, someone, or a group of people who have access to your deepest emotions and feelings. Their circumstances and actions affect you. Their lives are intertwined with yours. What happens to them will affect you somehow. They are not like random acquaintances that pass you by in life. It could be the family you were born into or people you chose to be family in your life. Either way, you care for them.
The word ‘family’ came into English in the fifteenth century. Its root lies in the Latin word famulus, “servant”. The first meaning in English was close to our modern word “household” — a group of individuals living under one roof that included blood relations and servants. Extending the term, it can encompass anyone we include in our lives, not necessarily purely blood relationships. Your family consists of people who love and support you, and the people whom you can confide in and trust.
The deeper the bond, the more it affects you. The amount of joy associated with them is proportional to the degree of sorrow inflicted by them. When someone happens to them, you feel it. When they attain an achievement, you celebrate with them and when they are sad, you cry with them. Humans thrive in tribes. They are your tribe. They are an important part of your life as they help you grow. When they bring you joy, you feel a sense of purpose and achievement. When they bring you sorrow, they help you grow as you learn more about life and yourself.
When you fall out with your family, it can be intense and painful. You feel there is a part of you ripped out and not easily mended. Sometimes it takes understanding, other times it takes patience. Most of the time, it takes courage. It takes courage to think and feel, “I want to right this wrong. I want to make up and feel the joy again.” Most of the time, when you resolve issues with your family, the bond deepens and the relationship is enriched. Unresolved issues can lead to lingering discomfort and pain. Many have unresolved relationship issues for their entire lives and never resolve them. Many tend to regret not resolving their issues when the other party was still alive. Don’t leave it too late!
When we die, we cannot bring our toys, money, and achievements with us. Our success in life is measured by the relationships we formed and the people whom we affected. The deeper the relationship, the bigger the difference your existence would have brought. We are impacted by events in our lives but none so much as the impact brought about by deep meaningful relationships with your family, natural or acquired.
Family is often like branches of a great big tree, they reach out in various directions, to different places, experiencing different emotions but they share the same roots. They can lift you up to allow you to fly like a lark and also drive you insane and make you scream (sometimes internally!) like a banshee. It is said that insanity is hereditary. You get it from your children. Parents could easily relate to that! However, you also know that you would not do without your family, your blood, be it natural or chosen. They are your tribe.
Some are born with a family. Others create their family as they live their lives. Remember the origin of the word family, be sure to serve your family. When you do so, you will find that you get what you give. Serve them well so you will be served well, probably not from them directly but by their existence and influence.
Rosie is rich to have Rory, her natural family, and River, her acquired one. How rich are you?
“Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” – Lilo, Hawaiian saying