Monday, October 23, 2006

the egg that will not break

i could probably write a million posts about how much i love my family. every time i come back from a visit to my hometown, i'm suffused with a feeling of such contentedness... this feeling truly puts my problems in perspective, the love so dwarfs the bad stuff. this weekend was an embarrassment of riches on the family front - my uncle, his wife, and my cousin flew down from new england to scoop up my college-freshman-cousin to spend some time with my family. it's so hard to explain what's so special about it all - we ate great food, but don't most families? we caught up and reminisced, but that's what families do, right? there's just something about being with people among whom you so clearly belong. there's the simple fact of our height - my dad and his brother are about 6'7" and 6'4", my sister's 6' tall, my cousins, mom, aunt, and i are all around 5'9. walking in a pack with this group feels so great - with them, i'm not this odd duck, the cygnet among ducklings with her head and shoulders above the crowd. that's actually a pretty apt, if unintentional, metaphor for the entire feeling of belonging. when i look at my parents and aunt and uncle, i see people i'd like to become in middle age, and when i look at my cousins, 16 and 18 years old, i see so much of myself at that age. one of the lessons of the ugly duckling is that suffering just doesn't matter as much when you have your flock to come home to.
"To be born in a duck's nest, in a farmyard, is of no consequence to a bird, if it is hatched from a swan's egg. He now felt glad at having suffered sorrow and trouble, because it enabled him to enjoy so much better all the pleasure and happiness around him; for the great swans swam round the new-comer, and stroked his neck with their beaks, as a welcome.... Then he felt quite ashamed, and hid his head under his wing; for he did not know what to do, he was so happy, and yet not at all proud... Then he rustled his feathers, curved his slender neck, and cried joyfully, from the depths of his heart, "I never dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly duckling."

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