As a young person, I understood inheritance as the sum total of wealth our parents leave us. If you have grandparents then you can get more and if you have siblings then you only get a share. Every now and again we hear about families falling apart due to their inheritance. We also hear of some families fatally destroying themselves.
Inheritance, as defined by the dictionary:
is receiving something from the previous holder. The inheritance can be an article, money, estate, principles, legacy; and as we now know genes.
Apart from the usual inheritance of money, we often hear about values and principles being celebrated among families or companies as a legacy. Our looks are what we inherited from our ancestors and we all know how important looks are in our world, so much so that designer babies can be the next big thing!
I understood now what inheritance actually means. It is the sum total of everything we receive from our ancestors.
Pay attention! Receiving = Inheriting. So it is not what they give that we inherit, it is what we take.
A friend of mine recently bought a home. When we opened the old boxes that lay in the house, we discovered old signed books and at least 40 antique glasses. We couldn’t understand why such things were left behind.
It later dawned on us that what we found valuable, the offspring of the previous owner found worthless. It is all a matter of perception I guess. Maybe the offspring inherited the principles of their ancestor rather than their things. Maybe they kept a few things that had emotional value. Or maybe they simply aren’t hoarders like me – They know how to let go.
This encouraged me to evaluate my inheritance. I realised that I had forgone many things of great value and kept those with none. I wondered why I must have done that. So I opened my old diaries and read the handwriting of the younger version of me.
I observed that I had complaints about my inheritance, especially during my teen years. I cursed my looks, my financial position, my background and I even cursed my own parents (shameful I know!)
I was upset that I inherited my Mom’s hair instead of my dad’s, I was also upset that I wasn’t as rich as my friends because my parents weren’t smart enough to leave me money. I was resentful that my parents couldn’t work their marriage and now I without any fault of mine have to suffer the burden of their divorce.
What I am ashamed about the most is that I cursed my parents for not being successful in their lives. My narrow definition of success was enough money, happy family and good life.
I guess most teenagers judge their parents in this light. If they are not the perfect people I watch on TV then they are failures and hence I am a failure because I belong to them.
I ranted like this in my diary for a substantial number of years, gentle Reader. I was mesmerised by my own stupidity! How did I expect my parents to work a relationship that is broken if I can’t? I would call myself an idiot if I stayed in a relationship that hurt.
So why would I expect my parents to submit to their circumstances simply because I was brought in the world? If they had tormented themselves for my sake, would I have learnt that a bad relationship is unhealthy? Or would I have submitted to my own circumstances because even my parents did?
I recognised that I have inherited a few awesome things from my parents without even realising it. Now I see that I subconsciously observed my parents and learnt from their actions. Some of these actions are great and some not so much.
So just like a garden requires careful weeding out, our inheritance does too. We can’t keep everything, ergo, we need to discard what has no value for us and receive only what we must. It is funny to me now that all my life I had been thinking that inheritance was what my parents were responsible for when it was really up to me.
The stream of time sweeps away errors and leaves the truth for the inheritance of humanity. – Georg Brandes
He was a Danish critic and scholar who was also the theorist behind the Modern Breakthrough of the Scandinavian culture. I noted that my life has unravelled just how he explained through these words. My personal true inheritance has become clear to me after almost a decade.
Perhaps it would be wise to apply his wisdom to present societies too. We could actually evaluate what our ancestors left us because the land we call our own was never theirs to give. What their values were and among them which are worth taking is our true inheritance.