"I can’t even begin to tell you the stories that have been aired today, memories of our own childhood, and stories of my grandmother’s childhood, unimaginably painful little tragedies and kindly souls and scandal and heartbreak and cheerfulness. It is lovely to see my own little life as just one bit in a long onward story, of good times and bad times, and people just quietly getting on with doing the best they could."
Perhaps one reason (or bag of reasons) why many of us sometimes feel isolated and powerless, why individual identity is both so important and so frequently in crisis, is because we don't do enough of what the Windermere crew quoted above are doing.
The pressures of our highly individualised culture - the song of "me," the personalisation we are encouraged to reinforce, the multitude of choices we can make every day, even about trivial matters - can make us feel unique, and uniquely alone. I must strengthen my feeling of uniqueness, in case I simply erode away in the tide of FacetwitGramtext clamour, the assaults of TV advertising.
Well, each of us is unique, but each of us is not only a single integer, stranded in space and time. I've often banged on here about the ways in which it is possible to feel one and the same with the rest of the universe around us. (One of the fruits of meditation/prayer.)
Windermere's point is different, but related.
We come from and belong to families. Feelings of rootlesness may account for the huge upsurge in the last few decades in the number of people researching their origins.
and it's not all as daft as this!Of course, families can be the source of strife and misery as well as love and support, but my point here is rather broader than the emphasis on one's immediate family alone.
"It is lovely to see my own little life as just one bit in a long onward story, of good times and bad times, and people just quietly getting on with doing the best they could."
That's the point. Our stories interweave and roll forward. We are special and unique, at the same time as being simply part of many stories, that go back in time getting fainter and fainter, and will go forward in time, getting fainter and fainter... It's one of the many ways we belong.