I stared into the mirror and saw my green eyes looking back. Stray bristles of my untrimmed beard hung about in their rebellion. I blinked and suddenly there was a new face staring back at me. It was the lean face of a young artist accustomed to roaming the streets of Philadelphia in search of inspiration. He was joined by a short stocky fellow with a set of tools who worked in the old SPS factory. He pulled out a cigar and winked at me. A Boy Scout master towered over the others like a giant oak adorned in his formal clothing, covered in colorful badges and pins. He was whistling a jovial little tune without a care in the world. From behind him emerged a stately old gentlemen the likes of who I only remembered from my childhood family videos. He had big coke bottle glasses and the calm demeanor of a man who was at peace with himself.
A beautiful wedding singer with the voice of an angel sang her way into the picture. An English teacher slipped into the scene with dark brown hair and a copy of Romeo and Juliet in tow. A tall, middle-aged woman was sitting at a desk with her fingers flying over a steel typewriter. A stay-at-home mother stood in her well-worn apron, whisking and stirring a delicious meal into existence over the stove top.
Behind these faces emerged strange ones that I had never seen. Way in the back stood German immigrants crossing the Atlantic and a wild British buccaneer brandishing a sword. It was clear whom I had to thank for my big ears, green eyes, and patchy beard as I saw them scattered amongst the men and women. These men and women were the ones who had gone before. Their adventures and struggles were now only distant memories, but it is their blood that runs through my veins giving me life. They are a part of me.
Their weaknesses and strengths have been passed down. The ghosts and glories of the generations have taken root within my very being. The residue of rash decisions and secrets are mingled with unyielding loyalty and courage. These men and women shape me more than I can imagine. To know myself is to know from whence I come.
What are the myths and secrets and successes from the past that continue to guide and mold you?