You have more choice than you may have realized
The theme of cultural burden is one that we can’t ignore. When we are younger, we often do not see culture, as lives are shaped by only the experiences our families can offer. As we get older, meet new people, and explore the world around us, we are able to better define what we choose to be the prominent elements of our lives. We get to decide what drives us. And more importantly, we can leave some aspects of our past behind.
The layers that define who we are, for today’s post, can be summarized as: Genealogical + Cultural + Present self. We actually have one of the amazing guests from our podcast to thank for helping us simplify our identities. We have read hundreds of opinions on the matter, and we are sure there are innumerable academic thoughts on the subject. But for Root & Seed, we want to remove the burden of culture, as our friend Aldo describes it, and "focus on just connecting your family’s heritage with the values you want to nurture in the present."
Honestly, there is no one answer, and that’s what we love about culture. But in our journey, we have uncovered some tips for how to start:
Try to tell your story, as opposed to the story of an entire culture. You decide where to start. Does your family story start 200 years ago? When your family immigrated to where you are today? Does it start when you leave your childhood home? Does it start at marriage, children, or when you discover meditation? You decide. But pick a place to start.
The past has a role. Whether we like it or not, our past has influence in the culture we want to embrace today. For some of us there’s a snowball of things (food, traditions, language, festivals, superstitions, idiosyncrasies, religion, art, memories) that we love and want to cherish. For many of us, there is a lot of pain from the past we never want to be reminded of. But everyone should try to reflect on where they came from - genealogically, religiously, or historically. You never know what you will find if you don’t ask.
Family and community shape us. What is it about the people you choose to surround yourself with that makes you happiest? What elements of what you do today are things you hope to continue next year, or even in future generations?
Everything that is worth remembering, is what shapes your individual culture: big loud dim-sum lunches; making gnocchi with Nonna; tying a bracelet around your sibling’s wrist; the heirloom your elder was able to save during their immigration; the songs that bring you back. Tell us what elements of your past and your present make your culture. We love hearing these stories!
Culture is a journey - of discovery, collection, reflection and celebration. Check out our other articles that might inspire your journey.