Just Call Me Gestalt
When I was born I was lost in the hospital. Evidently my mother had been moved to a different room after having me, but I was put in the original corresponding nursery. So, while I am 98% sure that I am related to my family, I’m not actually sure.
When I was nine my father began it all. He had been visiting his mother and brought home two homemade compilations of his family history that a far off relative had made. The rest of the family enjoyed looking flipping through the books, looking at pictures and discovering that we had roots in Slovakia! and Ireland! But they soon grew tired and the binders were to be resigned to a dusty, forgotten shelf where they would stew for years to come.
While flipping through the pages of what someone had obviously spent a lot of time on I became enthralled, my curiosity piqued and I wanted to learn more. The seeds of an obsession were planted.
I convinced my parents to help me set up an ancestry account, where I would slowly put the information from the binders into a digital format. I didn’t know how to conduct research, or even that one could look at old records and find out new information. I was nine after all. However, as the years passed I eventually transferred all of the information over and my hunger was not satisfied. I wanted more. And so I began talking to relatives and finding ways to cheat the system and view records without paying for them. I had a lot of information on my fathers side, so beginning in high school I tried to focus on my mothers which brought its own challenges. And for all these years of researching and staring at names that would one day create mine, I discovered a lot about myself.
When I was some age, I had an epiphany. I was sitting on the porch, watching the wind blow through the trees. It was spring. And suddenly I realized that time doesn’t stop. Yes, most everyone knows that but in that moment I felt it. I understood that one morning one of my ancestors woke up and began farming, woke up and made bread, woke up and got married woke up and fell in love woke up and buried a child or even just didn’t wake up at all. And the sun set that night. And it rose again and set again and never stopped until that moment when I was sitting on my porch. In between so much more had happened, so many lives had been lived and maybe, just maybe one of my ancestors had looked at a tree as well and realized that they too were a part of something else (even if they weren’t the ancestors I had been researching). In that moment I realized that I would not exist without every single one of my ancestors struggles and triumphs. To a certain extent, I am their lives.
While everything that lead to me came from them, I am more than just a compilation of those before me. They are not the reason I love cats and coffee and chocolate, why I hate driving or want to travel the world. That came from me living my own life and becoming my own person. Whether my parent’s ancestors are also mine or not wouldn’t completely change who I am today. So yes, I am a sum of my ancestors and their lives before me, but as a whole I am so much more.