heritage: Property that is or may be inherited; an inheritance.
tradition: The transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.
culture: The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society; The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.
religion: The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods
We had an interesting but too short discussion about what the above four meant. They overlap and intertwine and it is impossible to separate them out completely. They are very much entangled balls of twine. But then came the question of what is *my* heritage and I got stuck.
My previous speaker started it previously by saying “I want to belong to where I am now”. He’s right and that prompted me to think about letting go of wanting to have belonged to somewhere in the past, whether it’s parents or what they represent. My parents didn’t present the unity of a family as an entity to which we all belonged but presented as a division so there was no foundation there either. This is one of the reasons I cling on to Yorkshire as a belonging as that was a constant throughout my life.
Other than my grandmother’s parents dumping her I have no awareness of generations before my grandparents, I have no awareness of them having passed down anything. No values, no cultural traditions, best practices, family stories, no possessions, not a stick of furniture or precious piece of silverware. Nada.
So do I have any heritage beyond my grandparents? No I don’t, and that’s another reason I cling to both their homes as a stable source of roots, as places to where I belong even though I never lived there.
That also means no traditions passed on. All of them are about what we grew up with as children, the family jokes, the car songs, the holidays.
Culture came from my mother and grandmother. Films and theatre, G&S. A love of books came from both parents but it was my grandmother who introduced me to my most influential author and most of my reading favourites come from me. A few come from my parents but bugger all really. A couple from my dad, who thinks Shakespeare a nonsense and Raymond Chandler the best ever. My parents had minimal musical awareness; my mother’s mother was the one with her 78s and our evenings when I would play through the stack.
I rejected religion. I don’t much remember my parents making any suggestions one way or another. I had my book of bible stories which I still keep. 2sis wanted to be a vicar as an adult and embraced Christianity as a teenager. 1sis dabbled with all sorts of thing, with Buddhism lasting the longest but none of it really stuck. I never belonged to a large group of people. I might have done with the various drama groups but they were basically for adults and there was none for young people. I had a go at Brownies but never really fitted in. Was that why when I discovered the theatre at school it spoke to me, because it was a place I could belong, and fit in with all the other misfits?
I said jokingly at half term that the reason I had children, however slow a procedure it was, was to provide me with playmates. We were playing a board game at the time and being as silly as we could be. It is true though. I didn’t feel that I particularly belonged to my family as a child and much of the reason I had children was to have a family I belonged to. That worked out well.
I belong to the now, because I belong to my family and my local area. I do not belong to the past.
Part of my understanding for the need of connections and my drive to make friends and acquaintances is watching my parents move or not move, but either way have very few friends and very little connection to the real world and to people in it. I do not want to be isolated. I understand my father’s desire to build himself a wall to protect his emotions from the rest of the world but I utterly reject it. We are humans and that requires connectivity if we’re to have a full life.
This is why the recording with new speaker (for my placement) got to me, because he decided to embrace it. I asked him what belonging meant for him and I need to answer the same question.