"The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together." - Erma Bombeck
The above quote was brought home forcefully to me recently. For a long weekend this time, instead of an exotic outing, we chose to spend it with several members of the family whom we had never been able to spend time with on account of our busy schedules. It turned out to be one of the best, and surprisingly relaxing, vacations we had had in a long time.
Family is a strange thing...we speak of it as a single, immutable unit. But in fact, it is composed of several different individuals who themselves are constantly undergoing changes due to age, experience and circumstances. This in turn affects their equation with others, and results in changes in loyalties and mellowing of prejudices. Our visit turned out to be an ice-breaker with some members. I guess when you cook and eat together, share bathrooms, laugh or cry together, see each other first thing in the morning with your guards down, it forges a bond between you. This need not be a blood tie, but is born of intimacy and shared experiences. Our immediate family is the first such unit we learn to be intimate with and no matter how much distance or time has elapsed since we drifted apart, we can effortlessly slip back into the same comfortable equation as before.
The down side is that such intimacy can also open our eyes to the imperfection of members who we have hitherto hero-worshipped. Most interestingly though, having known of how other family members face life’s various challenges teaches one the most important lesson in life – that life is essentially unfair.
But one thing is clear – no matter how wealthy, successful or important one is, one does need a family to share things with, to provide emotional support, or a reality check, and most importantly, a sense of belonging.