Friday, August 14, 2015

You Can Pick And Choose Your Family.

Freedom From Want -- Norman Rockwell, 1943

Famed author Harper Lee wrote in To Kill a Mockingbird...
"You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't."
Harper Lee couldn't have been farther from the truth.

Family goes beyond whom you share a blood relation with. Life isn't about predefined boundaries with some people being your kin and some being your friends; some your enemies and some strangers. If you step back and look at the big picture, we're all technically related as the one giant family that is the human race.

So no, sharing a blood relation isn't enough to qualify someone as family -- at least in my opinion.

You can pick and choose your family. Your family is whom you surround yourself with. A friend can be closer than a sibling. A nanny can be closer than your own parent. The support group that enriches and improves your life is your family. Alternatively, people whom you might share an immediate blood relation with could be wholly destructive and detrimental to your well-being. These people are not your family. The sooner you accept this fact, the better off you'll be.

Often times, we want to organize people into specific roles within our family. This person is my mother. This person is my sister. This person is my nephew. I find great fault in this. Being a part of a family isn't solely about filling a certain niche. It's an all-or-nothing scenario in my experience -- either you're in, or you're out. Family... not family... it's that simple.

Think about the people you love the most in this world. Do those people return your affection and make a difference in your life? Good... then that is your family. Hell, this goes beyond human beings, even. My two dogs, Mellow and Echo, mean the world to me; they are part of my family. I know I'm going to be devastated when my dogs pass away. It'll be as if I have lost a dear family member because I will be losing a family member.

Believe it or not, family is important to me. I'm deeply loyal to my family, appearances be damned. Yet, my family isn't some alley bar where everyone can come in for a drink. Instead, I treat my family like a highly exclusive social club. The membership isn't open to just anyone. You have to meet certain requirements and I simply must know you're in it for the long haul. Being "related" to me (whatever the hell that means) doesn't make you family.

Being a part of my family makes you family -- nothing more, nothing less.

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