My mother told me once (if she told me a million times) that two thousand generations of my ancestors follow me wherever I go.
As a child, it struck me as a silly notion. I mean, just where did they fit in our Mercury Linx coup when my family of four and three Cabbage Patch dolls crossed the United States at break-neck speed because we only had two weeks to see all those rusty tractors? Were they in the bathroom when I took showers? Did they expect me to share my ice cream cone with them?
And if two thousand generations of my ancestors followed me wherever I went, what about my cousins? I have many cousins, and only two of them lived within a 5 mile radius of my childhood home. Could my ancestors really be in several states at once? Did they take turns? Did they get recess when I slept or ate dinner because I wasn’t going anywhere?
That’s a massive amount of pressure to put on the mind of an oversensitive child when I didn’t even completely grasp my own existence in the world.
Needless to say, I’ve never questioned the existence of Santa Claus. His accomplishments are completely doable in the scheme of ancestors.
What I have come to understand as an adult (mostly, I still haven’t completely convinced my parents) is that I represent two thousand generations of my ancestors. In this precise moment, I am the reason they existed at all. That’s a massive amount of pressure to put on the mind of an oversensitive almost-adult. Although I no longer fear that my ancestors watch me shower, I still have questions. How do my behavior and the choices I make in this world reflect on them? Are they disappointed or embarrassed? Or am I already so far removed from them that there is no impact to all those linked to my lineage?
And if I’m representing daily the two thousand generations of souls involved in my DNA, is it enough that I attempt to be a better human being each day, or must I achieve perfection before my sins are washed from my gene pool? Maybe all they need is respect and honor. That’s all I have to give them anyway. It’s not like I can share my ice cream cone with any of them. I strive to be the best person I can be. In the end, isn’t that all that matters?
Now I’ve told my niece and nephew that two thousand generations of their ancestors follow them wherever they go. It’s nothing that they haven’t already heard from my parents. I’m sure my mother has told them at least once if not a thousand times. As an almost-adult, however, I couldn’t help but add that “when I become one of those pesky ancestors, I expect ice cream.”
Sorry, Mom. I’m still working on my ancestor skills.