What is a Family?

Wikepedia describes family as such:In human context, a family (from Latin: familiare) is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence. In most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children.

Archaeologist Lewis Henry Morgan (1818–1881) performed the first survey of kinship terminologies in use around the world, describing a place in the family as a classification of relationships: daughter, cousin, grandchild, etc.

Membership in a family gives us our original orientation in life and society. It provides us with a sense of the familiar, that which we are like. It lets us know where we fit. Historically, families were necessary for survival. When procreation was necessary to continue the species, the ideal situation was for a fertile couple to marry, and reproduce enough offspring to ensure the land and the people on it were cared for. The family was a unit of survival, security, and sense of belonging.

In today’s society, the definition of family has changed dramatically. The family idea of the 1800s is becoming an archaic relic. Today, single parent families, couples without children, and non-biological relationships constitute what we define as a family. We still seem to find comfort in orienting ourselves with others through relationship.

Family can also restrict us and bind us to a set of religious and moral ideals that do not allow for a wholehearted expression of our deepest truth in life.

The Tao te Ching tells us when the great Way is forgotten, morality appears. When we lose our innate intelligence, we rely on rules and knowledge. When we throw away knowledge, piety, morality and justice, people will do the right thing and be a hundred times happier.

I do not look at family as a static thing into which I was born and must adhere to in order to keep my place in life. My biologic family gave me my starting point, not the rules and morality by which I must abide. My family has morphed and changed many times. It has become far more dynamic than I ever dreamed possible. Life is not static. As I change, my world changes, and my relationships change. As my consciousness changes, some relationships are let go, and new ones appear that seem to support the highest expression of truth in life. And once again, my family is changing. It is sad to let go of what has given me my comfort, my shared joy, and a sense of stability for my children, my husband, and myself. But this sadness is not without a greater sense of joy for what my heart demands.

Lebanese born poet, Kahlil Gibran, born two years after Morgan’s death, wrote beautiful essays on love, children, and marriage. He said, “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

Some of my past relationships seem so distant I can barely find them in my memory anymore. And I thank Life for the ability to relinquish ties that bind, that my highest expression in life becomes my compass; not the origin of my conditioned ways. I will let myself be wounded that I may live in accordance with my heart. I will let my loved ones mourn, that they have witnessed what it takes to live from a courageous heart. Let love break me open. Let me not direct its course, but let it direct mine.

And I find a new family; the family of an open hearted soul; not those that I was born into or bonded myself to, but those whose purpose it is to deepen the spirit.