So why didn't I watch, as I sat in front of my TV last night?
I was more interested in “Finding Your Roots” on PBS. It wasn't a grand promo that caught my eye, although the fact that Stephen King was on piqued my interest. It wasn't Henry Louis Gates Jr, who seems a bit stuffy and unrelatable to me. It wasn't Gloria Rueben, whom we saw on ER years ago and whose smile is big and genuine. It certainly wasn't Courtney Vance, who I may not have known at all, but had the most interesting story. It was the humanity of the show that draws me in.
You know that we all put our pants on one leg at a time, yet we seem to put celebrities on such a tall pedestal that we hardly are able to see who they really are. What sort of people are they? How will they handle these surprises that go to a very personal level? I've seen grown people cry over the stories of heartbreak and tragedy, I've seen smiles that wouldn't stop because of a new piece of family history has been shown to them. They aren't all that different than us, they just have a different job.
This particular episode had a theme – a missing Father. Stephen King's Dad left the house for a pack of cigs one day and hasn't made it back YET. Gloria's Dad was 73 when she was born, and passed when she was still quite young. She knew very little about his side of the family – her white side. Courtney's Father committed suicide when he was 30, but was adopted and didn't speak of his childhood to anyone.
All had a mystery. All would be surprised at what Gates would lay out in front of them in their "Book of Life".
Of course, this all made me question something heard again and again over the years – To know yourself you must know where you came from. I will respectfully disagree. At least for me....
There was a time when I was very interested in the past, but as I've grown older, it is less and less important. I have evolved over this lifetime, to accept things, take responsibility for things, and in general, not to dwell on things that I can't control. It would be nice to know that relatives were good folks, maybe have some pride in how they went about their lives, but seriously, if they were awful human beings or saints, does that change who I am, as I tap on this keyboard?
Not at all.
I don't demean anyone who is geneologically driven. I think it's cool to know history in general, even better when you can put a face to it. It's just not needed for me.
“Finding Your Roots” shows us just how and why families spread out, leaving a place once called home, to find new beginnings, reinventions, and sometimes, an end that comes way too soon. It's on PBS for ten episodes this year, and can be seen on their website [here].
You may be surprised to find, you like it too....