When I was twelve years old, my family and I traveled to Drummin, Ireland, the tiny village of my ancestors. I was uncertain as to what to expect of the experience.
Of all the sites I had been told about, none had been more accentuated than the graveyard: the place that was home to countless ancestors quietly nestled behind a tiny church. With such a place in mind, I set off through the lush, green fields to find this legendary setting. As I idly wandered among the cows in the pastures of my cousin’s farm, I came upon the ancient-looking graveyard n the rear of the tiny church that sits alongside a weed-covered field. An overpowering feeling of belonging came over me as I veered through the scatter graves. Each deteriorating stone identified the resting place of one of my ancestors, picturesquely situated amidst tall, damp grass. As I slowly read the names of those who preceded me, a strange yet familiar feeling came over me like a welcome summer shower. I knew that I was home.
I believe in the feeling of belonging that comes with reuniting with your past. Though my ancestors never knew me, just standing in their presence, contemplating the wonderful gift that is family is a feeling that cannot be described in words. I was never truly proud or interested in my personal history until I started it in the face, so to speak. I now realize that the dignity and love that shaped the lives of my ancestors is an unending force that affects me today. Because of my ancestors, I am who I am today.
Since the moment of my epiphany in Ireland, I have tried to change the way that I think about my life. I now know that there is no point in disregarding my past, for my past will continue to shape my life now and in the future. Without an acknowledgement of the past, life itself is incomplete. In today’s multifaceted world, life is not worth living if there is nothing to belong to, or be proud of. I now know that I belong to my family, of the past, present, and future, and that my pride in them and, most importantly, in myself, makes life worth living.