Tuesday, April 12, 2016

J is for Journey


“Life is a Journey, not a destination,” is a famous quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. So it will be for your family reunion, as you travel not just physically, going from one side of the country to another, but also emotionally. Your reunion may first be seen as a destination, an event to schedule in, and once back home, when your day-to-day activities crowd in again, it fades away as any vacation will do.
But if you look at the reunion as another passage from one stage of life with your family to another, it will take on new significance and meaning for you. If you have children, it will give them a sense of connection to where they came from. It may grant insight into your childhood and early adulthood when you are with your siblings and parents again.
Oftentimes, family members are not able to be together for some of life’s passages, such as marriages, births, and funerals. Commitments to one’s own family that you’ve created around you, as well as work or school commitments may hinder attendance at those events. That’s why making time for a family reunion that can be planned in advance around everyone’s schedules is important.
By making the time to celebrate together, you are helping yourself and your other family members navigate the cycles of life that you are experiencing apart from each other. Once upon a time, living under the same roof, for better or worse, you were there for each other, sharing the good times and bad, learning who you were, and being witnesses to each other’s growth as individual human beings.
At a family reunion, there is space to reflect, maybe not consciously, but you’re all doing it, on where you’ve come from, how far you’ve gone, and how family figured into that growth, or how they didn’t. It’s a chance to acknowledge where you’ve come from and to support each other through life’s passages that someone may have been facing alone.
So it’s not just a physical journey a family reunion will entail, but a mental and emotional journey that will happen whether you ask for it or not. Perhaps there are family members you didn’t get along with all that well in the past. Maybe that has changed, maybe it hasn’t. It will rear up at the reunion once you get into close quarters, hopefully not like a bad movie, but it will occur. Can you patch things up? Or develop tolerance and acceptance? Agree to disagree?
And if you’re lucky, you’ll find the ties that bind haven’t changed. Maybe you’ll make it a goal to keep in better touch with each other, find ways to make connection a priority. Or maybe you’ll just go back to separate lives. Either way, no judgment. Thank yourself and everyone who took the initiative to make the journey together, and see it as just another part of the cycle of life, the coming together and leaving, that makes life meaningful.

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