In my last post (a video blog!), I said I would be writing about the importance of getting back in touch with your roots. I’ve written before about how your past experiences shape who you become, but it’s important to recognize that the past, in and of itself, doesn’t define you; it’s those experiences that help inform you so you can choose how you define your future.
On Good Friday, while I was with my cousin and her family in Hollywood, my Pop Pop died at the age of 94 while he was living with my parents in New Jersey. Given that it was Easter weekend, all funeral arrangements were held off until this past weekend. Growing up, I was taught that the most important events in life and family are weddings and funerals, so it’s important to be present for them. I checked out of social media this weekend, and although the circumstances were sad, the weekend ended up being a joyful, fulfilling one. Juxtaposition right? Have you ever been at a function after a funeral and found yourself having fun? Maybe it’s the Irish way, but I have to believe it’s more than that.
Funerals are not for the dead; they are for the living. And the reason the weekend was fun was because it was full of life. The circumstances surrounding the event that brought everyone home were not necessarily happy ones. No one was happy Pop Pop passed away, but instead of focusing on Pop Pop’s death, all the family and friends that came home focused on the 94 years worth of life that he lived. And that’s a good, long life full of rich history.
My Pop Pop was born in 1922; he was a Navy man who saw more than one war in his lifetime. And on Saturday, during my Mom’s Eulogy, I learned so many new things about him: life experiences, inside jokes in the family, his likes and dislikes, certain catchphrases. Some of my Pop Pop’s friends came to the service and shared stories of when they were young men growing up. My Pop Pop actually visited and toured the Hindenburg before its demise, which not everyone knew before the service. It was nice for everyone to have the experience of discovering something new about Pop Pop even in the wake of his death.
Getting in touch with your roots does not mean changing who you are; it means seeing how the experiences of those who came before you influenced the way you were raised, how the way you were raised can influence your view of the world, and how you then become responsible for defining life for yourself once you are aware of all of those things.
When I spoke to my mom a week ago about booking flights home for the funeral, she told me she’d like for me to come home as long as it was good for me and for my schedule. It caught me by surprise when she said that because although I knew I technically had a choice in coming home, I would not have thought of not coming. I’m very fortunate to still have both my parents in my life, but my mom no longer does. It was an easy choice for me, choosing my family. I missed out on (what might have been) a huge career opportunity in LA, but I know there will be other opportunities. My ego might have wanted to stay in LA and pursue that chance, but my soul knew exactly where I needed to be: home, supporting people I love.
Your family and your roots helped shape who you currently are, whether you like to acknowledge it or not. It was amazing to sit with my aunts, uncles, and parents after most people had left on Saturday night. We drank tea, sat in my Mom Mom’s kitchen in Beach Haven, and I got to see my Mom and her siblings share wonderful stories and memories with each other not just of Pop Pop but of my Mom Mom, too. And hearing those stories was invaluable; I can’t put a price on the experience. Being present in the moment and disconnected from social media and the world outside the beach house led me to a place and an experience full of real, true connection.
And real human connection is what it’s all about. That's why we act, write, entertain, perform. We want to give people that opportunity to connect with each other by creating true moments of emotion and connectivity. Once you stop listening to your ego and start listening to your soul, you’re not only able to connect on a deeper level, you can also then define your life for yourself moving forward. Don’t ignore the things you learned growing up; there’s a reason in every experience and every life lesson. We often think we know everything, but that’s just ego. Those who come before us are a wealth of knowledge and wisdom if only we take the time to listen and connect.
I had an amazing weekend full of other great experiences, too, reconnecting with family and friends, which I will write about soon! So until next time, starve your ego and feed your soul! And, of course, as always, if you have any pressing questions or if you want to discuss something further, feel free to subscribe below or reach out to me on the “contact” page. I’m here for you!