What’s passed on from one generation to the next? Privilege and pilgrimage.

“the same blood that runs through my veins,

ran for centuries before me,

and will continue to live on after me,

each generation passing down their stories,

like a medicine to inspire growth.

(that did, indeed, inspire growth.)

–e.l. jayne

This is an excerpt from my poem “Generations” on finding gratitude in our heritage.

Did you know that there are about 7,500 generations of modern humans? That’s a lot of great-great-great-grandparents.

Contemplating how much I know of my parents’ lives compared to my grandparents’ lives puts a lot in perspective. So much is lost over just a couple generations. So much has changed over time it’s hard to fathom life back then. Not to mention the 7,498 generations before them.

So what’s passed on from one generation to the next?

Of course genes, predispositions, and instincts, but what about intuition?

What did they cherish most in their lives? What was their motivation that kept them going from day to day?

What lessons did they want to imprint on their children? What were their life goals? How did they want to be remembered?

Did my ancestors struggle with the same dilemmas that I have? Did they stand up for what they believed in?

What were their biggest fears? Mine is not making the most out of life. That in itself says that I have been given a lot of opportunity and privilege. My ancestors biggest fear was probably not getting killed or catching some deadly disease.

Sometimes I feel what I believe to be intuition from generations past. Something someone learned before me. It inspires me that if my ancestors can prevail, then I can, too. No matter how distant our lives are, there are still things passed on over the generations, whether we realize it or not.

What do you wish you knew about your ancestors? Do you think intuition can be passed on from one generation to the next? I’m interested to hear about how different people and cultures connect to their family history.

The full “Generations” poem by E.L. Jayne can be found here: https://pointlessoverthinking.com/2020/11/26/to-do-gratitude-and-food/

E.L. Jayne’s poetry blog, Poems & Prose, can be found here: http://www.poemsandprose.travel.blog

12 thoughts on “What’s passed on from one generation to the next? Privilege and pilgrimage.

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  1. This subject fascinates me too.Families in India are generally closely knit and ancestors are revered but a lot gets lost regarding their actual personalities, thoughts, motivations etc. Loved reading this post.

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  2. I was thinking about this subject a couple of days ago… and so I’m very grateful you’re bringing this subject to my awareness where I can ask meaningful questions about my ancestors. I was brought up LDS and a lot of LDS people research their ancestors so they can do temple work for them. I don’t know of other cultures who are interested in their ancestors but because of my LDS upbringing I’ve done *some* research… nothing too meaningful though. Sounds like people from India care about their ancestors. The questions I would have… what did they value? What were their hobbies? Talents? Opportunities? Oppressed? Slavery? Were they good people? Were they honest? Did they stand up for the truth? Were they honorable people? And what the hell are they doing now?

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  3. This post certainly resonated with me, especially because in my experience people seemed to be more and more inclined to find their ancestors unimportant or not as advanced and therefore negligible.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The saying ‘blood is thicker than water’ really doesn’t appeal to me. I feel relations aren’t forged on the compulsion of blood, genes, and DNA. It’s something bigger and better than that. It’s about that spiritual vibe and the missing pieces we often look for in others so that we as human beings can feel complete. You’re so right that many know little about their grandparents, forget about the generations before that. Certain biological aspects are definitely passed down and can even skip a few generations before resurfacing unexpectedly. Many cultures in Asia continue to appease and worship their ancestors. Is it just redundant thinking or true belief in traditions? Can’t speak on the behalf of others. But the curiosity of ‘what was’ will always remain. Great sharing. 🙂

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  5. Other than an interest in the kind of people that they were – how they lived, their prejudices, their loves and hatreds, their values – I’ve not thought much about what they handed down to me. I used to spend a lot of time with my elder uncles and their cousins when I was a kid and listened to tales of their experiences. I was one of the very few of my generation who showed that interest and that helped in these people opening up their lives and those of others to me. Now that you’ve provoked me into pondering over it, I think I got my tolerance for human behaviour and fluidity of judgement, that people can and do change and that they behave differently and often seemingly contradictorily under different circumstances, from those early interactions and vicariously gained experiences. Well done, agent provocateur 😊

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  6. Hey Ellen 😃

    I wish I knew about their source of resilience. Historically, black people have endured more than their fair share of troubles. From Grandpa Slavery , to Daddy Colonialism to their son Neo-colonialism.

    Yet from those ruins, Mandela grew. Dr. King flourished. President Obama flew!

    Ah, that excerpt from your poems is so enticing! I can’t wait to sit down and dig in!

    Like

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