Nowadays, people are thinking about the future, whether it be about their future jobs, careers, or plans for their life. Some people think about the present, but precious few. Many think about their own pasts, whether filled with joy or strife. Others still think about where they came from, and what actions of the people from their past led them to where they are now.
A couple years ago, I took a DNA test—you can take one on ancestry.com or through 23&Me. I learned lots of things about myself, including where I was from, where and when my ancestors lived, and some traits that my DNA told me about myself. For example, I found out I was more likely to have dimples and less likely to have a fear of heights.
But what they didn’t tell me was the story of my past; a DNA test couldn’t tell me where my grandparents had gone to school, how many siblings they’d had, and what journeys they had taken. This test couldn’t tell me the journeys my ancestors had taken so they could come to America.
It didn’t tell me about how my great-grandmother walked 3000 miles across China in the middle of winter to get on an American warship that took refugees to the United States. It didn’t tell me about the challenges my grandmother faced when she moved to California from Taiwan. It didn’t tell me what stories unfolded, what paths were crossed, and what steps led to my existence today.
But it did point me in that direction and led me to uncover something so priceless––stories. Not the fictional kind, or even biographies, but lives lived and spent, crushed and made new, empty and filled. I began to discover, or rather, rediscover what stories were woven together to make the tapestry that I am today.
Sometimes, we go to see my great-aunt. She lives alone, and we don’t see her very often. She talks to us for hours about her life when she was younger, always backtracking and losing her train of thought, but we still listen. I used to not think much of what she told us of the stories of the village she had grown up in and the jobs her sister had. I used to think stories like those were insignificant.
But perhaps those stories told over dinner or whispered into a child’s ear as they fall asleep are relics of a past woven together with different threads of many colors, countries, and lives that are a part of who we are. The question is, what story will we begin? I encourage you to take the time to reflect on the importance of those stories that led you to where you are now by running your fingers across every thread, every bump, and every pattern of your own tapestry so that in doing so, you will begin your own story anew.
Photo Credit: unsplash.com