During the past year I've spent a lot of time thinking about family. One of the early ideas that was floated around about the documentary, "Booker's Place: A Misssissippi Story", was focusing the doc on the reason I was searching for Booker Wright in the first place, the answers to which were buried deep in a host of family memories.
In an early draft of my book I wrote:
Family is the cord that keeps us tethered to the earth. Its memories, habits and secrets are woven together to form a thick rope that both anchors us and makes us relevant. Everything we do eventually floats away on aimless currents, but maybe there is something in us, impossible to name or pinpoint that renders us inexplicably unforgettable to family.
"Family is the cord that keeps us tethered to the earth." Looking back I realize that, growing up while feeling so disconnected from family left me with the belief that, if I could construct a sense of family or if I could I find a place to belong, "where everybody knows your name," that I would somehow be complete.
Many of my life choices were governed by a quest to find family. My choice of friends, where to worship, who to marry, what groups to join were all determined by the level of family I hoped to build with strangers. I didn't allow these relationships or choices to happen organically. I was always thinking of the long term, always looking down the line 10 or 20 years into the relationship. I was planning, calculating, even scheming to win hearts and find a place so that I wouldn't have to float, untethered.
At 37, I am finally realizing that this doesn't work. Yes, I need to make choices for myself, but not based on a fear that I will one day be alone. I have to spend a little time in my life, truly being untethered, to prove to myself that I can. It's like I'm running from loneliness, but I always end up lonely because I chose my crowd for the wrong reasons. I heard someone say once that, in life, it's just me, God, and the dirt. I'm trying on that life for awhile.