Sunday, January 26, 2014

Untangling Peacocks

I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Abraham Lincoln and his Secretary of War, Edward Staunton, returning one summer’s eve to the Soldiers Home that Lincoln used as a sanctuary from the quagmire of Washington’s summer heat and the strains of waging a war, to find the peacocks that lived on the grounds of the Soldiers Home, trapped in the trees. In an attempt to domesticate the birds, strings had been attached to wooden blocks and tied to the their legs. This, however, did not stop them from flying into the trees and becoming entangled. Lincoln and Staunton worked together untangling the strings that trapped the poor birds. I’ve long thought this was a great metaphor for Lincoln’s work of untangling the complicated threads of a country divided against itself and weaving them into a tapestry of a reunited nation.

And now I find myself faced with the task of untangling my own peacocks and weaving the threads of truths and lies into the tapestry of family stories.  Lately, I’ve been hearing new stories and discovering lies that I had long held as truths. What to do when your foundation starts crumbling, when all along your perspective has been like looking through a fun house mirror?  Distorted.  Looking back at you with crazy eyes and gaping mouths that said how could you not see what was really happening?

So many tangled threads require lots of patience, letting go of that which no longer works for us. Acceptance of sitting with the unknowable.  How do I fill in the gaps?  Some family members squawk like Lincoln’s peacocks as I tug at the strings of lies and misrembered stories as I try to tease out the basics of our lives as a fractured family. Many of us tried to stay afloat in the alcoholic soup that our parents cooked up for daily consumption.  Some of us drowned in it.  Never made it out. Others of us learned my negative example and got way the hell away from all the chaos. We were survivors. Anxious to start our own family stories, hopefully, with happier endings, as we built up and out on our shaky foundations.  The universe brought me this now to untangle the threads of disjointed stories and weave them into our family tapestry.  It may not be pretty, but it will be authentic.

Rebekah for the Poplar Grove Muse

1 comment:

  1. Rebekah, what a great metaphor for the task you have taken on in recent years. From all I have read so far, you are a gifted untangler, as well as a subtle and sophisticated re-weaver of rich tapestries. MKP