You know how it is, you wake up one morning and realize things went awry of what you had intended. Maybe you’ve known for a while, maybe you just noticed it with a start, but it happens. You look around and life has taken a left turn despite your best plans and intentions.

It’s hard, changes like that. It is hard to let go of the grief, the grief over unrealized dreams, desires, and plans. We do this, us humans, we set up our lives and emotions for a certain path we’ve designed within our own psyche. Simply put, we plan on the house with the white picket fence and the dog. Unbeknownst to us, wyrd or the Gods or the powers or fate or whatever you want to call it, it has a different plan. We don’t get the house with the little fence, we get a hut out in the desert or that apartment overlooking a run down neighborhood park.

It’s hard.

A person mentioned not long ago that they wished someone would talk about the rougher impacts of oaths to deities. I’m only going to touch on this here because it tangentially applies, this really isn’t a commentary on oaths. But, to satisfy a few folk I’ll add a thought. The deity may have a different plan in mind than you do for your life. I understand many out there believe deities pretty much only work to make our lives better. Eh… to a point. Deities work to make things better, yes, but it may not be better for us. At least in our limited view. You want to live and work in Seattle? Got that great job there? Maybe it isn’t the deities plan. Hel, maybe that deity has another person who needs to hear one little thing you’ll say because that person will repeat it and five degrees of separation later it will have the effect needed. You’ll never know. 

Catch-22 of the whole damn thing? You need to be in Utah to do this. So, you ignore the travel brochure, you ignore when someone tells you about some little startup company that needs employees. Then bang! Your spouse decides they want a divorce. Next thing you know you are laid off and in foreclosure. Huh, may as well move to Utah even though you hate the damn desert anyway.

So, you’ve been moved like a chess piece, life turned upside down and none of it really for you. Now, I do fully have faith the Gods will bless you for this, but this blessing may also not be what you wanted (or thought you wanted). Just the way it works folks.

Anyway, back to this rambling topic. It’s cruelly hard at times to realize and then accept the changes that one may be asked. The diversion from one’s dreams, plans, goals in life. Unexpected changes as such deserve a time of grief, they and you deserve that time to acknowledge the separation of current and future reality from the current and future wishes. 

We can’t judge these events, these twists and turns of wyrd. We also can’t judge those whose lives are impacted as such. We don’t know the details, we humans just can’t see the bigger picture and the potential effects the changes will make. We may never understand. It Just Is.

One of the things I do is ancestral work. Or try to, most often rather than my trying to repair my ancestral lines, the ancestors end up repairing me. Sigh, it’s a give and take I guess, and for that I feel greatly blessed. 

Anyway, a while back I had just needed some support and had given reverence to my ancestors. I had suddenly felt a hug, my impression was a hard working farmer. Queerer than a three dollar bill, nothing better than a hug from a gay grandpa who has sincere love for you; nothing better. My initial impression then had been not only of the support, but that his life certainly hadn’t turned out as expected. Guess not, I could sense he’d married a woman and buried that essence of his own sexuality, his own self.

So here we can touch on judging our ancestors. This comes up occasionally so I’ll lend some thoughts. We all have ancestors who have done things we don’t agree with. Heck, some of our ancestors have probably committed heinous crimes. Can we hold them accountable? Sure. Can we judge? I get a bit hesitant about that. We weren’t there. We don’t know motives. So I’ll talk about the morning when I met my queer ‘grandpa’ for the second time. He’s a softer case, easier to mentally digest rather than discussing genocide or rape.

This man, he was gay. Always had been, knew it from childhood. Knew he was different. He came to speak to me of some unforeseen, unplanned changes to my own life. He used his life as an example. Now a days there are many who would judge him for cowardice, for not standing up and being himself. To paraphrase his story, 

I had to live differently than what I would have chosen. I loved another man and wanted to be with him but I couldn’t. He didn’t see me, didn’t recognize me. I didn’t live in a place or time that I could live with another man anyway. It was dangerous. I wasn’t interested in expressing myself.  I was interested in survival.

I wanted companionship though. So I found a good woman and even though she wasn’t what I desired or had wanted for my life I married her. (He reached over and with a grin gave me a teasing poke) We had children, obviously. It was a good life, she was a good friend. You see, even though she wasn’t what I had ever dreamt of or wanted, she became the love of my life.

I won’t judge him as cowardly. I can see the bravery in his actions, I can understand his reasons. He took what he was dealt and did with it the best he could. Is this similar to an ancestor who may have committed genocide? Maybe, maybe not. If you are drafted into an army and told to kill or you and your family would die, what would you do? It’s hard to say unless put in that situation. What of the ancestor raised in a barbaric environment, taught to hate and kill from infancy?

So I choose to look at accountability rather than judge. 

The bigger lesson here though is his love song. He took that diverging path of his life, a path he didn’t want to walk and made the best of it he could. He built a home of it and found joy and the deepest of loves. He shared this love with others and let it blossom and flow into something bigger, a one plus one equals three kind of thing. Love built out of acceptance of its fallibility, out of its imperfection rather than what it could do for us or how sparkly it seemed. This is probably a better way of being when solidly faced with a reality that doesn’t coincide with our dreams. We are so big into the concept of ‘if you don’t like your life, change it’ that sometimes we forget there are things we can’t change. Our culture would have us unhappy, miserable, consistently banging our heads against the wall ultimately to end up on some kind of medication or with insomnia or addictions. 

No. Sometimes we have to just look for the love of our lives on the new course. If we can’t find that big thing, sometimes we have to just look for those little things that can mount and build into joy in a new way, a new realm. It’s wyrd, its holding off on judging for a while, its love.

Why do so many people go into working with the dead, even to the point of making businesses out of helping them pass over, yet have no strong habit of ancestor veneration themselves? How can they claim to respect someone else's dead when they don't respect their own?

This just continually boggles me. Just honoring one's dead on Samhain isn't enough. When it comes down to it, that's virtually an insult. 'Here Grandpa, I'll give you this day. But the rest of the year I'm going to focus on spooks and shades and unrested dead of everyone else 'cause hey, I did my feel good moment with you already.' It's like one's own ancestors aren't sexy or interesting or exciting enough.

Yeah, and we wonder why our American culture lacks any depth and has a horrific sense of loss regarding our roots.

*Pic of Camilla Jane Smith (infant), daughter of Alexander Smith and Mary Jane Martin. Camilla (1861-1936), my great great grandmother in my mother's mothers line.