Whatever lies behind the myths and legends of the humankind includes the first and most basic collective wisdom of our species. There are truths buried here, the first truths ever learned. Some are practical, some we might call moral. They have been seen by a few enlightened members of the race and passed down in stories. Through the stories we are able to glimpse a shadow of the truth. As we are willing to act upon these truths, to that degree will we find happiness as human beings.
- God is
- The human race is special
- Inside every man there is a woman, inside every woman there is a man
- Love God first, yourself and your fellows equally
- The survival of the species is the highest moral imperative
- Absolute power corrupts
- Only through death do we have life
- It is possible to be immortal
- Pay to no one the rewards of evil
- All taking of life must be honored
- We are a part of nature and nature is a part of us
- There must be music
In many ways, this summarizes just about everything I’ve learned in my lifetime. For reasons that I do not understand, or need to understand, the pathway that God laid out for me in my life ran thru book, many books. I was especially drawn to those writings that told stories of the human condition and experiences. A major part of my recovery from the trauma inflicted upon me by my Vietnam experience was learning how other soldiers had reacted to their wars, going all the way back to the ancient Greeks. Read “The March of the Ten Thousand” by Xenophon and you might get a glimpse of what I mean….but one of the key lessons is the fact that some things must be experienced to be understood, and war is one of them. That is why one sees the phrase “If you weren’t there, you don’t understand” used by Vietnam vets.
If you doubt that, think of this: you can read all you want to about childbirth, study all those Lemaze method books as I did and you will never understand what it is like to birth a child unless you are a woman that has done that. I watched as my wife went thru the worst pain I have ever seen a human go thru and I’d read a lot of books and went to classes….but I will never have the same understanding as she did, or any mother does.
Trauma is like that…ask any victim of child sexual abuse….you may sympathize but you will never really understand…
As I read the stories of wars past, they led to other stories of other peoples and places, far removed from war. It also led directly into a study of mythology and I came to be on a first-name basis with one Joseph Campbell, who towered over all the rest in his ability to understand the stories and what lay behind them. I suppose it is somewhat fair to say that I read every old story I could get my hands & eyes on from all the peoples of the world, starting as far back as the Epic of Gilgamesh…the oldest story we retain in writing and still my all-time favorite.
Gradually over time I came to see the stories as much more that just the rambling entertainment that they were often portrayed as. There is wisdom in things like the Grimes Fairy Tales if you know where to look. They have often been changed over time depending upon who was in power, but the thread of wisdom, of good and evil, still remains. The stories of the goddess was changed when the male gods took over and these in turn were changed when Christianity came to power and these were changed again as the power of the church waned…but behind it all, there is truth that still comes thru. Power corrupts; life requires death; immortality is real.
From all the stories, I’ve gleamed a few fundamental truths that have come to be the Tao of La Due. Actually I never thought of it that way – my daughter Melanie gave it that name years ago and it stuck.
A story, my own, of the first on the list, and the last…
When I was in my first year of sobriety, one of the major issues I had to face was coming to terms with what is referred to a the “Higher Power”. I had been raised as a Catholic and generally fallen away from religion as such. I had read almost all of the fundamental religious writings of just about every denomination that ever existed and had read some of them twice, including the Bible and the Koran. I struggled with the concept for some time and then one evening I decided to take what I knew and believed and put it in writing. I figured that if I could write it down, it would be a true reflection of my belief system. So I sat at a desk and took out a blank sheet of paper…I can still remember the night. I took up a pen and write the words “God Is” thinking that I would add qualifiers and such and descriptions and all sorts of things to the 2 words I had written. I found, after sitting there for perhaps 30 minutes, that there was nothing to add…the words “God is” said all that needed to be said. I knew then that for all the reading and all the scholarly criticism I had read and all the stories and such I had been over and all my personal experiences in life, that inside me was a man who believed in God. And I knew enough by then to trust myself and my feelings and beliefs…so I believe. Eventually, I did add some things to that page and they have evolved into the Tao as you see it above.
And the last…When I looked at what I had written, perhaps only the first 8 or so, every so often I would realize that something had to be added. Finally, for maybe a decade or so, it stayed at the first eleven, but I always knew that something was missing. If my Bride remembers correctly, we had just returned from a concert by Yanni at Wolf Trap when it hit me…the missing element was perhaps the most basic…music. And without music, the human soul is dull and empty. Even today, a Gregorian Chant can stir my soul. And Rock and Roll – a pure and wonderful gift from a God who truly does love us.
So what does this all have to do with the Family Tree?
Start first from an understanding of the limits that exist with record and record keeping. The Birth Certificate is a uniquely American invention. Prior to that, the only records written down relating to births and deaths were generally records made in a church log. Some famous, or infamous, folks had books written of them. But what of the vast time period prior to writing? What of the majority of our ancestors who knew neither how to read or to write?
The answer is quite simple – they told stories. And what more natural than to tell stories of your ancestors and family? These are the stories that I read and read and read. Of course, the critical among us question the accuracy of the stories and the ability of the people in the past to recall and remember accurately. So, they say, these fables and myths and sagas must be all fiction.
Try this for style – The Iliad and Odyssey, attributed to Homer contains hundreds of pages and many, many thousands of words. How was this faithfully transmitted down thru the generations in a world where there was no writing? Very simple – it was memorized, word for word by story tellers. How much can you memorize? What if it was your job to memorize and retell the stories? These Greeks did just that and they certainly were not alone.
So if it is absolutely a fact that hundreds of pages of the Iliad were faithfully transmitted thru many generations, how difficult would it be to remember the names of a few hundred of your ancestors? I say it is not hard at all and the stories, while subject to a variety of exaggeration perhaps, retain the thread of truth and the persons related in them are likely to be real. Those Gods and Goddesses – likely real persons who made a mark on their society and were immortalized in song and story. And one of those – Woden, is in the family tree. He is there courtesy of the old Norse sagas that tell the tale of him and his deeds. Do I believe? As one of my favorite ladies is prone to say…”You betcha”.
I’ve chosen to use this discussion as the lead into something I have been mulling over for some time, which, as it happens, has to do with that last item I added to the Tao….”there must be music”.
I’ve thought about what I might do to write something of a personal history and the idea came to me that my life story can be encapsulated in some of the music that has meant much to me. Rather than write something like a day-by-day narrative, I think I’ll write about some of the music in my life, what it meant to me and how it influenced my life and emotions and actions. The plan is to take a song, starting with the lyrics, and see where that takes me. I have no idea how I might sequence these things or if the order even matters…probably not. But for the time being, I’ll just use the titles.