Sunday, December 18, 2005

The mystery of the dancing men

It just struck me now, like that other time on the bus.

I tend to think about my ancestry with such abstrac- tion. There are my parents, of course. Hello, mum and dad. There were my grandparents, all dead now. They too had parents, grandparents, great grandparents. Names connected by thin lines, branching out with geometrical precision. Every family tree is identical except for the names.

Some of the lines are quickly hidden from view: My grandfather’s father who was a "found child" and grew up with foster parents. The details are obscure to me even though I carry those people’s surname like an inherited sweater.

Other lines reach back a long way; four, five hundred years before they are severed or blurred. The facts slowly thin out, turn into guesswork and then vanish. This name probably came from that district in North Germany. These people were farmers. This branch of the family went to South America.

There’s so little to go on. It’s almost like we don’t want to remember the details, that we don’t want to look back at all the dead people. An ocean of them… Death turns it all into mathematics.

But there is another side to it. The distinction isn’t as clear as that. It’s not us on the shore and the dead people in the water. The lifetimes overlap so we get to see each other. We get to meet our parents and our children. Our hands touch. We hold hands with them, and they in turn hold hands with the others, those we never get to meet. Like paper cut-outs of dancing figures stretching endlessly in both directions.

Down through the centuries until the hands change back. Up through the centuries until the hands change forward.

I can’t explain the realization I had on that bus when I was sixteen, and I don’t know how to land this story either. It doesn't matter.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was it a little like: "Where goes all the stories to all those names,and where goes my story and ehere does it end, and will anyone ever remember me?" No, cause it doesn't really matter... -does it? You got to the point. Right there. Buena naughty.

7:42 am  
Blogger Mikkel said...

Thanks, but... Buena naughty?! You need to go back to the language lab with that one.

5:23 pm  
Blogger Mikkel said...

I'm sorry, Hieronimus. I'm grumpy because I just woke up and I'm not completely satisfied with this post.

6:09 pm  
Blogger Mikkel said...

In fact... Come to think about it, I HATE this post. It's mooshy and horrible: Our hands touch... I am such a girl's blouse sometimes.

Panzer - HURRAH!
Panzer - HURRAH!
Panzer - HURRAH!


Aaaaah... That felt much better.

6:14 am  
Blogger Sara said...

You know you love it.

8:14 am  

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