Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Apple and the Tree

Continued from here and here.

One of my father's favorite sayings is that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Which has a lot of truth in it, and is well worth pondering when considering your propensity toward infirmity. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am one of those sorts who vehemently opposes going to the doctor. In fact, I try and avoid it all cost, and suspect that this quirk of mine might land me in big trouble some day. This apple definitely does not fall far from the family tree. My Dad, who loves to dispense these words of wisdom, hates to go to the doctor. Like me, he avoids it at all cost, preferring to diagnose himself based on his knowledge of tropical medicine. The fact that he lives in New England deters him not! Dear old Dad even takes this a step further, which may show that we have evolved down through the generations, or, as he would prefer to say, indicates his high level of commitment. He hates to take medicine, or treatment of any kind, preferring to "let nature run its course".

My point being here, that it may be wise to take a good hard look at the old family tree. Infirmities often run in the family, and we usually see them show up in one of two forms. Most commonly they appear as that not-to-be-missed blemish on the character of our loved one. It is the thing we all know about them, even if strangers remain blissfully unaware. We try and avoid it, and love them in spite of it. We pity or resent them for it. Or, not so commonly, it has blossomed into the corresponding virtue, through long years of discipline and suffering. We might note it as patience in one who thinks of themselves as short tempered, or kindness and generosity in one who tells stories of their selfishness and meanness in youth.

I would strive to be the latter, but I suspect I haven't suffered enough yet. What infirmities are obvious in my loved ones? Am I blind to my own leakage in the very same areas? Have these frailties simply become part of my family culture, and are thereby easily dismissed without much thought? Has my family heritage allowed me to excuse spiritual laziness? These are hard questions to ask, and even harder to act upon.

No comments: