I'm like most people: There are things I'm not too keen about when I look in the mirror, things I'd like to change about my body. So I was a bit shocked when I was looking through old family photos and started seeing those things I don't like, but on other people.
Those bags under my eyes that never go away? There they are on my great-grandfather. The double chin I've had all my life, even when I was fashionably thin? Right there on his wife. The corners of my mouth that turn down in a scowl unless I'm actively smiling, well, I see them on one of my other great-grandmothers. My "duck feet" that make it so hard to find shoes that fit well come direct from my maternal grandfather. The "family hips" that have always made me self-conscious appear on quite a few women down one particular family line.
The list goes on and on. And for every little thing I can find that's less than "perfect" about my body, I can find an old family photo showing someone else with the same trait.
These are my people, these ancestors who lived in the generations before me. On their shoulders I stand. They survived awful, hard times. They passed on traditions of food and hospitality that I strive to follow. They're in my blood and in my bones. I can imagine that, if I were adopted and didn't know my birth family, or if I lived in a time before photographs, looking in the mirror might be the only way I could see their faces: in my own face.
So now, when I look in the mirror, I don't see all the things that are "wrong" about me. I see all the people who came before me, the generations of human beings whose paths led forward through trial and tribulation, through adventure and challenge, through all the myriad little moments that make up our lives. And I realize that what the amazing writer Linda Hogan said is really true: I am the result of the love of thousands.
Blessings upon the Ancestors. May they walk in beauty always.
In the name of the bee,
And of the butterfly,
And of the breeze, amen.