I had reason to pop over to Paeroa to make a delivery of some ink to my brother in law . He was at the 20th Paeroa Highland Games. http://www.paeroahighlandgames.co.nz/ I took the opportunity to have a look whilst I was there and I was surprised at the attendees, young and old, from members of Pipe Bands through to contestants in tossing the caber and throwing the hammer.
The sound of the pipes swirled around the domain and the rattle of the snares and thumping of the bass drums all added to it. I know that there are many for whom such sounds are torture to the ear however for me being of Celtic descent such music unlocks a wee part of me that is hard to ignore. If you ask me to describe my heritage I will say first I am a NZ European with a mixed cultural heritage, Irish, Scots, Scandinavian and two dirty little secrets, English and French. Out of this mix I associate strongly with my Irish heritage however bagpipes certainly stir my soul. Watching mad men attempt to toss the caber kind of appealed to me , my daughter was concerned that I might have a go.
Now the thing that struck me was all around the domain there were people set up displaying their clan. People were very keen to see what clan they were and what tribe that was associated with.. I had a think about it as I an want to do and realised that along with the basic things in a hierarchy of needs, the need to belong is very strong. . My Brother in Law operates a business, names and their origins which is a database which contains family crests and gives a brief history of the name and its meaning and origins. For a small fee you can get a print out of this . It is quite a popular service.
What is it that drives us to seek out who we are and whence we came from? I think it is a basic need and that as society becomes more and more fragmented it will become more and more popular. I believe it comes to that basic situation that everyone wants to be wanted, on a personal level and also at a family level. By and large family is about blood relationships, I know there are exceptions to this however as I have found out separation and divorce soon show how shallow those relationships can be.
After being involved in my ex wifes family for over thirty years I am now cutoff from them, I guess I should have been ready for this but it still hurt. In fact separation really tells you who your true friends are it is nearly three years and I have yet to hear from some people that we saw on a weekly basis. Well no real loss I guess because obviously there was no real friendship. I haven’t changed I still help people at the drop of a hat and anyone is welcome at my house but there it is.
The other part of everyone wants to belong is that I have become acutely aware of a number of single very lonely people who live by themselves but desperately want to belong to someone, not in an ownership sense but in a partnership. I belong to this group as well I must admit. I am exploring how that feels but I know this I am not the kind of person that wants to be by myself for ever. I have heard a lot of people proudly trumpet their independence, I don’t need a man/woman in my life and then they are on a dating site. They say the want don’t need, I must have a look at this sometime in another blog.
I guess for me I have learnt that family is not about kin relationships or the sharing of blood lines, blood is thicker than water is a tired cliche that doesn’t mean anything really to me. I captured a wedding as the official photographer on Sunday last for a couple. She is my brother in laws niece. Had a chuckle as it makes me her Uncle I guess and it is remotely possible that she is older than me! But I did it willingly as I see her as family. The same way as I help others around me.
Family has become so insular and we are paying the price of individualism in our societies and it is an expensive price. The cult of self is dangerous and all pervading another time to talk about that.