My father always said that being related by blood didn’t matter at all. He saw no value in “family for family’s sake” and was quiet honest about the fact that he found his relations almost universally boring and stupid and not worth spending a moment with. Others in my family of origin, in any and all generations, have discounted family for the same or other reasons, leaving me the odd duck who has always felt that family was a top, almost one might say, obsessive priority. So what is the odd duck to do?
Well for years and years, I’ve tried various techniques to change the world, ie. my family of origin, and of course that has been singularly unsuccessful. I’ve also worried, felt sorry for myself, etc. and mourned my loss of family. This also has not helped me one whit. Four years ago, in a desperation move, I landed on my beloved Vashon. Little did I know that the move would prove to be the catalyst for so many wonderful changes in my own belief system and hence my own reality. But now, with the changing of the seasons and the approaching holidays, my longing for a sense of family can absolutely blindside me without warning. The old tapes are hard to reprogram and they can still be easily triggered.
But I’m realizing more and more that for those of us who are, for whatever reason, the odd ducks in our family of origin, the solution is simply (well in theory, but not so simply in practice), to create our own family. When I was thinking about this, I realized that not only are most things truly working in my life, but the reality is that I now have, after just 4 years on Vashon, a significant number of people I can call friends, people who truly care about me, who love me and whom I also love in return. Most of them do have families of their own, in my original sense of the word, and of course everyone is very busy, etc. But that doesn’t stop them from caring about me and for being there for me in some pretty significant ways (such as taking me to my cataract surgery, etc.). I no longer feel so alone and isolated, and that is a wonderful thing.
As I approach my 65th birthday (and just received my Medicare card!), I realize that I’m just starting to find my own path, a path I stumbled on quite serendipitously when I moved to Vashon, but then I’ve always been a slow learner when it comes to the basics, the emotional and spiritual aspects of life. But better late than never, and my search for my self and identity is one reason, I believe, that I’m able to relate to my students at some fundamental levels. Anyway, I am just beginning to find or develop deeper relationships with kindred spirits, but I know that takes time. At this point in my life I now have more friends on a variety of levels than I’ve had in my entire life, in totality! I know I’m an introvert and developing relationships remains a challenge, but Vashon is truly unique. Because it is rural and an island, we depend upon each other for a lot of basic survival needs. But Vashon is also very liberal and diverse. We have a bumper sticker that says “Keep Vashon Weird,” and most residents take pride in honoring diversity. So my purple house may not be the “norm” as such, but it is the “norm” in that it is “so Vashon.” I have finally found a place I can call home and for me, that is of vital importance to the very core of my being. I’ve found a place where it is safe to discover just who I am, and now, I will be able to develop more relationships, deeper relationships with kindred spirits either here on Vashon or through the internet community or wherever, if I just keep my heart open, if I am receptive to change, if I can stay in the moment, stay full present, and be ready for whatever wonderful possibilities life has to offer. That is my family, and this is my home!