Coursing Through My Veins

(October 13th, 2011; revised March 5, 2012)





Have you ever caught a glimpse of yourself in a window reflection or in a picture and for a split second thought you were looking at your mother or father? Or maybe you’ve looked at a picture of your mother or father and momentarily mistook them for yourself? If you are a mother or father, then you might have experienced this in your child. Maybe your son or daughter has reminded you of yourself from some time, or of your own father or mother. And maybe you haven’t actually been so fooled, but perhaps you have noticed a striking resemblance, especially from certain particular angles or expressions or mannerisms or done something or said something that in hindsight you recognized as their likeness. I am perpetually amazed by this idea and find it to be one of the most beautiful and powerful connections in this world, those you have with your most immediate families, your parents or children or other relatives.


And I recognize that the idea of evolution is extremely controversial, but even when not considered as a basis of “creation” it nevertheless stands strong in analyzing where various physical (and emotional) traits come from. I think that, despite any strength of claims refuting evolution as a theory of origination, every rational person must agree that evolution is playing its perpetual role in the progression of human diversity even if only as far as generic traits such as (to list an inadequate few) eye and hair color, height, and body and facial shapes are concerned. In this sense I don’t think that any person can truly argue against the overall concept of evolution, because it fundamentally shapes who we are, regardless of how far into the past one is willing to consider it. In this regard it doesn’t matter in the slightest whether one believes that humanity owes its existence to ape-descendants or to a supreme being, or any other theory for that matter—this miracle is no less incredible and awe-inspiring. You owe absolutely everything you are to your parents, and them to theirs, and so on entirely down the line.


Physical attributes are undeniably the results of the interactions of your parents’ traits through conception. But it also seems undeniable to me that certain emotional attributes are also the results of the same interactions. I’ve seen so many people who exhibit such similar habits and desires and emotions as their parents, and this aspect of the whole idea fascinates me even more than the physical similarities do—because this connection is so much less obvious in its formulation. That the unimaginably intricate workings and combinations of parent-traits into the development of a new life from so little should incorporate not only the above-mentioned more obvious physical traits (incredible on its own!), but the emotional ones as well, is just… mind-boggling.


I guess the underlying reason for this fascination is that physical traits are so relatively simple, because we really don’t have much control over them. Over their natural state, at least… surgery or various other methods could of course alter this appearance, but you will remain, genetically, as you were conceived. But to me an emotional trait seems so much more complex. That a person should be quick to anger in a manner so similar to a parent’s, or appreciate the same sorts of intellectual pursuits, or indulge the same addictions, or enjoy the same types of music or movies, is so much less obvious and so is much more deeply, meaningfully telling of a person’s heritage. A given set of physical characteristics, such as eye and hair color and a pronounced jaw line and a certain build of body could, on its own, be enough for a person to, without any other knowledge than knowing your parent(s), draw the conclusion of whose offspring you must be—sometimes even multiple generations’ worth! But if you exhibit these traits and various other “emotional” ones then a person is much more likely to independently realize whose offspring you must be, based solely on such outstanding and recognizable characteristics.


Of course the primary factors involved in establishing a person’s emotional characteristics must be in their upbringing, because most such traits are learned simply by being taught by and observing them in their idolized parents. But what about those people who were raised mostly, if not entirely, apart from one or both of their biological parents? Such a case is where the deepest appreciations of this idea are nested, because any such identifiable emotional traits which develop on their own in such a similar manner just emanate the deepest beauties because they could not have been established by direct learning. That a person might not ever lay eyes on one or both of their parents, let alone communicate with them, and yet still exhibit some shred of any of their most characteristic traits, is incredible.


It’s so fascinating to me that, once the seeds have been sown, then (mostly) left to its own devices a life is gradually formed, nourished, birthed, and grown into an entirely separate, unique-yet-strikingly reminiscent being, ready and capable of making and understanding its own remarkable mark on this crazy and beautiful world of ours. For the most part, we all share the same fundamentals—we grow, we develop a body, we have arms and legs and faces and brains and the rest, and we learn how to function with these parts of ourselves in order to interact with the world we come to familiarize ourselves in. Everything else is details: what specific colors our skin and our eyes and our hair are, where we live, the sound of our voice, the language(s) we speak, the things we like to do, the things we like to learn, our friends, our jobs, our tastes in music and movies and the rest of everything that could possibly be used to describe what constitutes any single person. So much of that is passed directly into us by our parents, into the very code of our being, before we even experience our first conscious thought upon the world. And so much of the rest is heavily influenced by our interactions with those parents and help to strengthen what genetics alone is not quite powerful enough to shape independently. You exist and are who you are deep down within your core because your parents are coursing through your veins.


I have come to some very deeply-cherished feelings about where some of my own characteristics have come from. In so many cases the observational evidence seems so abundantly stacked in neat, orderly fashion that it’s almost unreasonable to question their origins. There is little doubt in my mind that I got my senses of kindness, gentleness, patience, honesty, integrity and compassion from my dear mother. She is without a doubt the single person in the world that I would trust, above all others, to tell me how she really feels about something, and to listen to how I really feel about something. I remember, years ago, during junior high after just moving another time (we were an often-moving military family), I felt so alone and discouraged in myself and among my peers. And I remember realizing, after a time, that there was a powerful correlation between “good” and “bad” days which hinged strongly on whether or not I simply got the chance to see and talk to her, however briefly, each morning before leaving for school. It was her kindness, and her empathy and, perhaps most of all, my utter familiarity with her, that simple yet complex identification with her through so many years, that motherly bond, which instilled the positive energy I needed to feel just that little bit extra of in order to better enjoy and appreciate my day. I’m not sure she was ever made aware of this at the time, but if possible I would somehow go and make it known how valuable even the most fleeting exchange was to me during those times in the dark, lonely, troublesome mornings of adolescence.


This trust continues still to this day, and sometimes when I find myself sharing with her an exceptionally deep feeling of mine, or vice versa, before I know it there are tears appearing, forming out of a depth of emotion so intertwined with hers inside me and I am so touched by so powerful a connection as if there is a tangible link of empathy between us just effortlessly ferrying the thoughts and feelings to and fro. I realize in a moment like this that there is an invaluable treasure here, in this bond between two separate human beings which allows for an understanding to be shared so much more deeply than any combinations of words alone could ever fully portray. I realize that I am sharing my feelings about something in this world with one of the people that created and instilled into me the very capacity to do so. I realize all over again that this wonderful person in my life is coursing through my veins, and I share this incredible amount of depth of wonder with no one else in the world.

My father is, for complicated reasons, not so clearly defined in my eyes and, in turn, in myself. But even so there are many characteristics whose source I cannot deny as his. His sense of humor, for one, perhaps most obviously, is most definitely a trait embellished within me which absolutely could not have come from my mother. Growing up, my siblings and I used to make our own comic books and sometimes would leave all captions blank in order to let him fill them in with us. And the things he would write, while making all four of us howl with laughter, would send my mom gasping and running to another room. He had a love of sports, which I share to some degree, but most notable of which was his interest in the numbers, the statistics of the various players, which even to this day I find myself looking for when devoting some interest into the competitions. He was very neat and organized, very detail-oriented, which I see in myself. I find myself similarly obsessively alphabetizing all of my books, movies, games, and CDs and such on the shelves, and I seek a specific spot for remotes and controllers even if I have perhaps too much of an excess of other random things, like my mother, occupying the spaces of my rooms to make them stand out so neat and orderly. But the order is there, and it reminds me of him, and so I feel him coursing through my veins.

I respect her, my dear mother, above all others to do the right thing without hesitation. She is very driven, always wanting to achieve success and make a positive impression on others, desires which I admire and feel I also have in abundance. She is logical and careful in her considerations, admirably patient, other things which I relate to and have worked to establish to a high degree for myself. She is very deeply rooted to her family, always striving to help them when they are in more troublesome times than she is, even when it sets her back from her own goals. I feel this is compassion in all of its glory, and I can only hope to continue to develop my own character to continue to fit such an ideal. But I think I’ve gotten it right so far. I have high hopes for myself with such an incredible role model to look upon. There have been so many times that I’ve felt something, or said something, or done something, and afterward thought to myself, this seems like the sort of thing my mom would have done. If the half of me that is directly descended from her can be worked into just half of the incredibly caring and successful person that she is, I will feel deeply and prideful that I have done well for myself. And so it is, without a doubt in my mind, in every single decision and every single motive and every single moment, my mother coursing through my veins.


My mother once told me, many years ago, that I have a way of looking over my shoulder which reminds her exactly of the way my father would have done. She was picking me up from school one day, during my junior high school year, and I had gotten bored sitting around waiting and was just casually walking up and down the sidewalk along the street that passed by the school. I was listening to my CD player, and so wouldn’t have heard as cars were approaching, so I looked back every minute or two in hopes of seeing her approach. When she eventually arrived and I got in the car, she told me about how vividly she was struck by the image of my father in the moment that I had turned slightly to look behind me. As trivial as it is, this comment struck me powerfully and has always stayed with me. I think it’s one of those little things that I’ll never forget, as long as I live, that for a moment—on the surface—I so closely emulated my father, who himself hadn’t been around for several years.

I remember as a kid waking up sometimes in the middle of the night and realizing that my dad was sitting, by himself, in the dark of the living room, slowly rocking in his favorite chair, singing along to his music. Sometimes I would get out of bed and sit in the doorway, close enough to hear it somewhat better, and just listen, out of sight. He was good, he could really sing, but to my knowledge he only sang during such times when nobody was supposed to be listening. I always felt like he must have had a deep appreciation of the music he enjoyed. He sang with soulful emotions to, I’m assuming, songs he really identified with. And this is another trait which I recognize I share with him. I imagine he must have identified with his emotions along with his music, appreciated the depth of the efforts put into their creation and formation and how this could relate to his own feelings, and he indulged this passion in his own time. Looking back, I realize that this was a depth to his character that he didn’t really outwardly express—I am only aware because of those disappointingly few times I happened to wake up and find him expressing himself when he thought he was all alone in the world with his appreciation. And so when I find myself doing the same thing, oftentimes sitting outside on the back porch just to enjoy the fresh air and darkness of night with my headphones or going for a late night walk or drive so that I can isolate myself from everything but the music itself, I get this deep, powerful feeling as I realize that he is coursing through my veins.


There are even some characteristics which I can identify as apparently originating from both of them. They are both skilled and effective writers. They are both logical thinkers, analyzers. They both have this powerful way of speaking their mind, of establishing the ideas they want to share, of portraying their thoughts into vivid arguments. They are both genuinely kindhearted. They share a deep capacity to feel, and empathize. I like to think that these traits, and so many others, that are common between them are the ones most deeply rooted in my own self. It is definitely both of them, simultaneously and cooperatively coursing through my veins. And what a beautiful mindset they have created, so well-set to admire and appreciate such a glorious world it was brought into. I’m just overcome with wonder when I consider this all and relate with them.


This idea is portrayed wonderfully in a song by Richard Marx called “Through My Veins” in which he reflects on having seen his father in his own reflection in a café window, and then delves into the many wishes and desires, and appreciations, he has felt since his father passed away. It’s so beautiful, and I wish that everybody would listen to it, and feel so inspired to really take time and consider how valuable and precious a connection with a parent really is… because of how much unimaginable impact they have had on your life, on the very fundamental composition of your existence. There is a particular line in the song which goes “I guess there’s not a lot that you forgot to tell me.” And I like to take this as meaning that, even though there may not have been certain things, certain thoughts and feelings, shared, especially if the parent was gone most (if not all ) of the time, they are within you just the same. Anything they may not have gotten the chance to share with you could very well yet be within the fabric of your being regardless.

And so your parents, to whom you owe your very existence to, deserve your every recognition and your highest regard, even despite the most unfortunate negative circumstances that may exist between you. They at least deserve this, and I hope deserve every single bit more that your overflowing heart can muster. Nobody else can place themselves into your very being like the ones who are coursing through your veins at this and every last moment. No matter how far from them you travel, no matter how many other people come and go in your life, nobody else can possibly have that same influence. They will forever be inside of you, and no amount of sharing or lack thereof, no amount of good or bad relations, no level of animosity, will ever change this.


And perhaps even more striking and beautiful, though I can only yet imagine, is the same idea turned around and applied toward your own children. To look at your child, and truly understand that half of what makes up everything about this child is directly descended from the foundations of your own genetics, and not only this, but the other half of them being directly descended from the foundations of the person with whom you created this magnificent miracle of life, must be absolutely beautiful beyond compare. It is one of my deepest and most longed-for desires to witness one day. I want to see half of myself, and half of someone I’ve come to truly love and appreciate for her deepest and truest qualities, come together into a separate human being, and grow into the wildly successful and worldly-prepared life that I know I could pour my devotions and wisdom into. I can hardly even imagine, though I try sometimes, but perhaps one day I won’t need to, and I will have a child that I can look at, and hold, and play with, and share my thoughts and feelings with, and witness the perpetual growth of and the boundless success of, and feel my soul overflow with pride and admiration as I recognize deep down in these depths of my soul that it is me coursing through those precious veins.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Posted by Eli Stanley | at 9:53 PM

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