Ernest Hemingway said, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” I think the same could be said about family, and the friends that become our family. I live in Berlin but my family and oldest friends live in South Africa. As the city I know call home is such a transit spot, with people moving in, staying for 6 months or a year or two, the world map now tends to light up when I start pointing at where the friends I have made in Berlin find themselves across the globe. Although I don’t see these members of my (extended) family nearly as often as I would like to they are a moveable feast that stays with me wherever I go for the rest of my life.
I must agree with Andre Maurois that without a family, man, alone in the world, trembles with the cold. One thing becomes clearer and clearer from one day to the next: family and community are indispensable parts of life. I tend to be a loner and I need “me-time” ever so often to recharge my batteries and allow me to be fully present in relationships. But as much as I cherish solitude I know that I can only fully be myself if I connect with the people who help me discover the worlds within. As someone who is privileged to have an amazing (biological) family I love seeing my conception of family burst at the seams as friends and mentors become like siblings and parents.
It is easy to paint a picture of something like family in which all the colours have a rosy, golden glow that sends the message, “Peachy keen perfection!” Family is also in the everyday, the messy, the vulnerable, the tantrums and the broken, but for all of that it is even more beautiful and relatable. Bill Cosby said it well, “Family is conflict and it’s something that we all relate to.”
Today I give thanks for the gift of family and for all the people who enrich my life and so often make me feel like the wealthiest woman alive.
What are you giving thanks for today?