Friday, November 15, 2019

More Alike Than Unalike

This month, we explore family stories and journaling, I must admit I have never used journaling. And I lost my family – both my parents and my brothers --  over 30 years ago, so I tend not to dwell on those memories. Perhaps this explains my connection to story, and storytelling. We are homo narratus, story animals, suggests Kendall Haven (Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story, 2007). We have told our stories for over 100,000 years. Not every culture has developed codified laws or written language, but every culture in the history of the world has created myths, legends, fables, and folk tales. As Rafe Martin tells us, traditional tales belong to the world of the imagined, to the portals of dreams. “They are the eternal literature of humanity.”

Stories remind me that I belong to something bigger.  We are the human family, Maya Angelou reminds us. We are more alike than unalike.

We Are Family
(Maya Angelou, from her collection, I Shall Not Be Moved. Penguin Random House, 1990)

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I've sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I've seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I've not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England's moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we're the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

Listen to Maya Angelou narrate her poem, We Are Family 


-- Bobbi Miller

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