Heroes in the Family Tree

What do you know about the heroes who are a part of your DNA?

I am fortunate to know quite a bit about some branches of my family tree.  I know my most prominent ancestor came to America in 1631.  I know another set of ancestors hid or abandoned their Jewish-ness. I know some had as many children die before them as lived on after.

I know some emigrated long distances with deliberate purpose; others when it was likely the only choice with the potential for food or home of their own.

Recent epigenetics studies are indicating that trauma and high stress levels can cause a child’s genes to be expressed or activated that might not have been so if the mother (parents?) had not previous been affected.  Does that possibly also mean that a radical change in culture, language, food/bacteria can trigger gene expression?  Does that also mean you can “tweak” your genes to overcome the trauma, as this Scientific American article suggests?

Or is enough to just know that you had ancestors who survived being slaves? Who lived through war and famine? Is it enough to know your grandparents trekked across the country with just a wagon to build a farm or a new business?  If you know that even one of your ancestors completed a Hero’s Journey, can you start to see that potential in yourself?

The popular PBS show, Finding Your Roots, shows celebrities’ their family origins with the light of the Hero’s Journey while also reminding us how connected we all are. Take a look back at family photos or ask the older members of the family who would be the highlights on Dr. Gates’ show.  Think about who you personally admire in your family tree.  You can complete a Hero’s Journey, too.  It’s there already, in your genes.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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