I wasn’t really planning on making this post, but I was inspired.
I was just watching a documentary that really made me think about the ancestors.
We’ve always known that we come from their bodies and, from a heathen perspective, perhaps even their spirits. And that became ever so much clearer since the understanding of genetics and how inheritance works.
But now there is new work in science on how inheritance works in ways we haven’t even dreamed–that everything they said about how parents’ experiences never influence their children might not be true at all. It seems that there is mounting evidence to suggest that various environmental factors from stress to pollutants to famine to things as small as putting an embryo on a culture dish can change the patterns of on and off switches in genes that affect the health of children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and on down the line. A single hugely stressful event can affect the health of people whose parents have not yet been conceived, or the grandchildren of a woman who is still herself a fetus.
I feel an incredible connection to my ancestors right at this moment. I fear that their terrible experiences may play out in my health as I age. I feel sorrow for the fact that their difficulties may not rest with them, but may affect the children and grandchildren they would want to protect from those experiences. I hope that their joys might somehow also play a part in me, that their joys might turn on epigenetic switches of joy or immunity or health.
But now, on a level far greater and deeper than conception, we can see that we are our ancestors. We are affected by more than just their birth and existence. We are affected by their lives, their loves, their fears, their struggles. Their life dramas play out in our bodies. And we will live on in the bodies and health of our children and our children’s children.
And so I hope even more fervently than before that I may lead a good life, so that my grandchildren might.