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By: Mike Barker

The dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia have their definitions, based mostly on biological relationships. But the heart has its own definitions, and we can hear those thoughts sing...

One of the earliest songs celebrates the family. We are born into one, and there we first feel the warmth, the closeness, the togetherness possible in a family--or, sadly, sometimes we don't. Parents and children--the special relationship of a man and woman transforming into the special relationship of a father and mother, the relationship of mother and child, the relationship of father and child, and the spectacular kaleidoscope of relationships between brothers and sisters, no matter how many or few--all those relationships are part of what we discover in our first family. From the earliest cry of a baby; through growing up, reaching out, and learning how to be hurt; into the agonies of separating and establishing ourself as our self...in all those times and all those years and all those tiny and great steps that we take, we celebrate the family.

A later, richer song participates in the family. Having grown into our individuality, we are free to re-establish, to re-join our family. We can look at that crucible of our soul, our mind, our thoughts and choose to take an active part in the new relationships that grow out of our independence.

This is hard. Don't let anyone tell you that just because you were born into a family, you know how to relate to them. In some ways, that myth of "family understanding" is one of the cruelest ones that I know, hiding the necessity to communicate, to spend time and energy establishing and maintaining relationships with the intimate strangers who are your family. Treat your family at least as well as you do strangers, and see what happens.

Artwork By Sarah Sammis And the greatest song of all, the one that shakes the universe and rebuilds it anew from the foundations, is the one that creates a family. When you sing this song, you take the best of what was, of whatever you learned from your first family, from all those echoes of the family in society, and from wherever you have seen something you call a family. You take all that, and you add the best of what you imagine, dream, and yearn for. And out of yourself, with the help of another, you make a family.

What a miracle! Here are two individuals, with all the differences and problems that are natural between any two people, and they go beyond that to create a new family. It may never match the icons of the perfect family that television, the movies, advertising, and the rest of our society likes to show us, but it is a family. And with time, energy, love, caring, tenderness...it can be a great one.

When you create your family, (whether it's the first one you've given yourself to, or you're trying again) give yourself room for growth, for humanity, for sharing. Today is never the right time for the perfect family, but tomorrow always smiles for a living family.

And don't forget that part of the glory of a family lies in what you are given, as well as in what you give--so don't be afraid to accept the gifts of others in building a family together.

What is a family?

It really isn't something you belong to, or something that fulfills certain social, biological, and economic functions.

It's something that sings your life, and you harmonize.

So let the melody ring.

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Mike Barker

Mike Barker enjoys making a living with computers, and has been leading programming efforts for twenty years. However, as "tink" in the virtual writer's workshop of WRITERS@mitvma.mit.edu, he also enjoys writing. A self-diagnosed shy extrovert, he tries hard to promote communications. He also admits that it isn't easy, but you just have to keep trying. The fun comes in the mixing and the baking, not just in the sweet desserts of success.

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[ CosmicConnections ] [ Fiction ] [ Non-Fiction ]
[ Opinions ] [ Poetry ] [ Song and Story ]
[ Letters To The Editor ] [ Inspirations ]

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Song & Story Articles

A Pocketful of Musings * Moon Dancers
Sins of the Daughter
The Wedding Dress * What is a Family
The Moon & Why We Can't Go Past It
The One-Eyed Seagull * Velocity

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