More Mystery than Family

Louis Bonaventure Chanez and Margaret Salome Urban Chanez

Agnes Schebler Hiegel and Alois Hiegel

While I was at my parents place for their 50th, I got a little melancholy about genealogy.

I guess as we get older, it’s easier to see how our lives are like a filament in a lightbulb… Once we break with this world, it’s easy for even the brightest light to be forgotten.

These photos are of my maternal great-grandparents … Both my parents came from large families so even on my maternal side I have thousands of relations alone from these couples whom I have not met. Just one of my aunts had 13 kids!

These pictures are more than family: they are mystery. The one question I immediately ask myself about these people who belong to me is: did they get what they wanted out of life?

What was their American Dream? My mom says that now Americans’ biggest problem is we — and other modern wealthy countries– have no real problems. We have everything we need-want-desire. So much so that we have to create problems for ourselves. Like too many choices, wealth-induced addictions and sensory overload.

We think trying (and failing) to take a break from Facebook is worthy of conversation.

My mom thought ‘The Hunger Games’ was “awful” because they were murdering kids for fun. She was right … But i also read the ignorance and frivolity of the Capitol residents and a kind of future America: people of privilege unable and unwilling to see how their individualistic and blind desires destroyed lives.

How does this life I am living now fulfill the dreams of Louis, Margaret, Agnes and Alois?

I wonder.