Reply To: Who am I ?

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Wow, Aurora, so much to dig into here. First, I am curious to know what in President Trudeau’s speech offered you new clarity about our asynchronistic U.S. president. About his influences, I may have another question, something of a personal conundrum, for you (and Deepak) in the near future–albeit one I may want to consult with you privately.

Second, the synchronicities you share are beautiful! I love our shared Harry Potter connection to our sons with @jenniferl, and so meaningful you were in Harry’s city to see your son graduate. Congratulations or, as we say among my co-religionists, mazel tov!

The “Who do you think you are?” question is truly one that we all grapple with–either consciously or unconsciously. (And that raises a question–what would Deepak and Menas say is the relationship between our personal level of conscious awareness–conscious or unconscious–and Consciousness itself?)

But I digress…

There is a program that has been on US television called, “Who Do You Think You Are,” about family genealogy and ancestry. It usually features some well-known celebrity, and the host and genealogical experts take them on a journey tracing their family tree back as far as they can. It’s quite enlightening, and entertaining or moving to see their responses when these celebrities learn that they were, say, very distantly related to Ghengis Khan, or one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, or whomever.

I went on my own path to creating an online family tree about 8 years ago, and found some third cousins on my dad’s side who were serious genealogists and helped me fill in some fascinating information that I know my dad would’ve loved learning about (although, come to think of it, he probably knows all those connections intimately, and interacts with them in soul state now!). Anyway, I reached many dead ends (no pun intended!) on my mom’s side. Her family came from a tiny shtetl (village) in the Pale of Russia (now Ukraine) where the Jewish cemetery was plundered during WWII, and any synagogue or family records would have been burnt along with the sanctuary long before then by the Tzar’s “police” or his armies.

Coincidentally, around the time I was searching, one of my daughter’s best high school friends was serving in the Peace Corps in Ukraine. I asked my daughter to see if her friend had ever heard of this little village–so doubtful it would even still exist, or if it did, that my mother knew the right name for where both her parents were born in the mid-1800s–or that I could spell it correctly–as it has been called different things in Russian, Polish and Ukrainian–all of whom have “owned” this territory at one time or another in history. My daughter informed me that her friend was serving in the city of Lvov (or Lviv)–not even close to this village.

As I continued my research, and connected to others trying to trace their family roots in the same region, I found in a Google search that many of the Peace Corps participants were keeping blogs. I found one that mentioned he was serving in a larger town in the same province, and neighboring this shtetl, and my daughter’s friend’s name appeared in his public blog postings (her blog was private). It turned out that all the Peace Corps volunteers actually did their training in this very shtetl!

Her friend/fellow Peace Corps member in the nearby town actually went, on my behalf, to visit the family he had lived with while he was in training there. He asked them if they remembered any of the Jewish families that had once lived there (they are long-gone from living there) or knew anyone by my either of my grandparents’ family names. It turned out they remembered certain families coming to the marketplace, and even someone by my grandmother’s maiden name! He also learned there had once been a history of the Jews in the village, a book that had been compiled–one of these family members taught history at the high school–and this teacher said someone from America had come to visit years before and they had given him this book. He didn’t know their name, alas!

Anyway, he took many pictures and my daughter’s friend sent them to me. I have to say that the village still looked much like I imagined it would have when my grandparents left at the age of 18–horse-drawn carriages, dirt roads, much poverty, women wearing babushkas, and all!

Quite astonishing, and when I showed it to my mother, she could only wish her parents had shared more stories of their growing up there (they were of the generation that didn’t want to talk about hardship, only wanted to assimilate and succeed the American way, and tried to “protect the children.”)

Without records, I could only get so far in my research, and I haven’t dabbled in genealogy in awhile, but this week, I got an email out of the blue from some third party who is helping a friend research her ancestry, and who is trying to trace the same family name and shtetl. So I may be coming back to the question of “Who do I think I am” in that way now.

But in another way, I don’t think this particular ancestry defines who I am in consciousness–the names and places are far too limiting. As we have noted here many times, we are all connected at the root, and just manifest at different times and different places to experience the Big “Us” and our connections in different ways and at different levels of consciousness.

It’s like an epic movie that is always recounting the human story and our many-and-changing roles in it from different points-of-view. So much fun–when we can remember!