Sessions With Self: Volume 3
It had been quite some time since I saw my dad. So, last weekend, I took a trip to visit him.
Do you know what we did?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And it was incredible.
It was a great day — one of those days that stick to your heart and you remember forever.
We sat for hours just being together. Talking. Laughing. We even baked a rosemary garlic bread together.
He told stories about growing up in Italy and moving to the US at 13. We went through stacks of old photos of his entire family dating back to the 1800s. Many were farmers and fishermen. They spent their days in the mountains of Sicily, foraging off the land to provide for their families.
This experience was like being in a museum of my own family history. I felt incredibly grateful to learn all this.
In the days that followed, I woke up each morning with an undeniable love for my family. A lingering compassion and gentleness for each of them followed me around. It was a unique sense of happiness for who I am and where I came from in which there was:
Each morning I felt a resolve, a strength in my heart to keep everyone in this space. Love, acceptance, and understanding replaced all the past conflicts and ideas on right and wrong.
At that moment, I set the intention to be present with the people I care about:
I was grateful for everything: the incredible day with my dad, this rush of love and compassion in my heart, and the wisdom that I can expect to gain from this experience.
But it also left me wondering why did I experience such an outpouring of emotion?
As I think back to my early adult years, I acknowledge I spent much of my energy seeking independence and becoming my own person.
Spiritually, that meant breaking free from my family specifically the limited behaviors and beliefs they modeled.
However, no matter how far you stray, there’s nothing like coming home and remembering your roots.
Sometimes we focus so much on evolving and transforming into better versions of ourselves, that it’s easy to lose sight of where we came from.
For a long time, my focus was to become “someone new”—not because I didn’t accept myself but because I wanted to break free from all the things that held me back from enjoying my life. This involved doing the inner work of diving into my childhood and examining my family relationships. In doing so, it became easy to fixate on my family’s mistakes and negative qualities.
This experience with my dad reminded me that while 90% of our baggage comes from our family, our relationships with them can be our greatest teachers.
They remind us that they are flawed human beings just like us, and they have fought a hard battle (and still are).
The next time you feel anger or resentment towards a family member, imagine what they must’ve gone through as a child. Consider their upbringing and the hardships they encountered.
The trials and tribulations we experience are an extension of our parents and their parents and so on. The “theme song” of your spiritual path is deeply connected to your family. It’s just a small stanza in a larger spiritual symphony.
The recurring issues you have in common with them are a window into your soul, and what it needs you to learn while you are here on earth. There’s a reason why this same issue has been a theme throughout your family—and if we investigate, there’s tremendous wisdom to be gained.
Just as our parents model behaviors and qualities that can hold us back, they also model beautiful gifts and attributes. Acknowledging this teaches us gratitude because many of the qualities we admire about ourselves more than likely came from them.
My dad wasn’t great at communicating with me as a child, but he was an incredible provider and a hard worker. While it’s been necessary to work through how his lack of communication impacted me, I also learned that my qualities of dedication, resilience, and discipline are gifts from him.
As we move further into our own lives, it’s easy to take our relationships with our parents for granted. However, the older we get, the more consciousness we need to shine on these relationships.
It’s not about the quantity of time you spend with them — it’s the quality of your consciousness when you do.
When you spend time with your parents, become the witness. Listen. Observe. And Wait.
In the case of my dad, he loves Italian cheesecake more than anything. And when he eats something he loves, he has a famous gesture in which he twirls his pointer finger against his cheek. This is his stamp of approval for deliciousness.
When I visited him, I brought him Italian cheesecake and he did his twirl and it warmed my heart.
I’ll always remember that. I’ll always be grateful for that memory and for simply seeing him smile.
When you are with those who matter most, be on the lookout for something you cherish about them and dip into these pockets of appreciation.
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