Surprise! Prior to a few hours ago, I’d never heard of Siblings Day. However, upon learning of this, my first thought was the irony of the name: Siblings Day.
I have siblings. Unfortunately I can’t make a qualitative description any stronger than that because lately our relationships have been…, let’s say less than ideal.
My wife Shari has two awesome Brothers. In more ways than I can count I am blessed they have become a part of my life. The three of them support each other unfailingly. They talk with each other, laugh with each other, and cry with each other. They kid and tease each other, and occasionally will team up two against one, recounting with great hilarity both embarrassing and ridiculous moments from days gone by.
However, they never raise their voices, must less their ire with each other, and while it’s evident they love each other, what’s even more clear is that they genuinely like each other. Though they are dramatically different from one another, they are unified in spirit. For their parents, they are a source of immense pride and happiness, and together the three of them are an absolutely formidable force. Again, I am extremely fortunate they have come into my world, and welcomed me into theirs.
But back to my siblings and I… Through the course of normal life, most families have to deal with a broad range of issues, challenges, failures and even tragedies. Some manage to usually get it right, but I think they are the fortunate exceptions. The more I read and learn, the more I realize that my siblings and I are probably pretty normal. We’ve had our successes and failures, individually and collectively. We have our pride, and our regrets. Each of us has numerous achievements. We want for little, we meet our needs, pursue our desires, and even manage to realize some of our dreams.
And yet, together we’ve only managed to achieve siblinghood, falling well short of brotherhood and sisterhood.
This probably makes us no different from millions of others. I used to wonder, “How did we get to this point?” But I’ve come to believe that question is not helpful, because depending upon whom is answering, there will be innumerable different answers, and probably even less agreement on the relative importance of any one answer. No…, though we’re definitely lost, “How did we get here?” won’t help. A much better question is “Do we want to fix it?” Given our circumstances, our personalities, and a lifetime of interactions, this may actually be a much more difficult question to confront, much less answer, for any answer will spawn a long list of what could be even more difficult questions.
Life is hard. In fact, I’ve heard psychiatrists and psychologists say life is suffering. Perhaps. I don’t believe that any significant amount of time in my life was spent suffering, especially when you see the kind of truly horrible suffering that takes place in other parts of the world, and even in the poverty- and crime-ridden parts of our country. In our case, “life is complicated” is probably more apropos. That being said, I think we have to concede that even our most fervent complications are nonetheless, First World complications.
My Mom would attest that each of her children are all very different from each other, which again, makes us more normal than not. Sadly, we have allowed our differences, and perhaps our pride, to evolve into passionate disagreements, resulting in seemingly enormous barriers. Though Shari and her brothers sometimes disagree, they refuse to let their disagreements rise to the level of divisive. They too have passion, but that passion also fuels an ongoing quest for an abiding, respectful understanding of each other. One outcome of today for me, is realizing that the real barriers that my siblings and I must overcome are not between us – rather, the real barriers are us.
According to some, the purpose of Siblings Day is to honor the relationships of siblings. In the case of my wife and her brothers, “honor” is indeed spot-on. Unfortunately, in my case, honorable would not be at all accurate in describing my sibling relationships. However, in that I’ve spent a good portion of today thinking (positively) about my brother and sisters, then perhaps the day is somewhat of a success after all.
Or, at the very least, a beginning.