I recently read Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love by Dani Shapiro as part of my research for my next novel. One of the key points I believe Ms. Shapiro makes is in identifying three spiritual tenets: Who am I?, Why am I here?, and How will I live? While these tenets may be specifically associated with the Jewish religion and culture, I find that I can relate to them as perhaps universal tenets on life. The first two, I believe, are beyond our control, but require a lifetime to understand. The third is by all accounts a conscious choice. In other words, we are born who we are, and our experiences are driven in large part by how and where and by whom we are raised. These experiences instill in us a certain knowledge and framework to guide us into adulthood. But, what we do with this, how we determine the course of our lives beyond our childhood, is completely up to us. So, what does this have to do with my writing? Well, since my writing is drawn almost exclusively from my ancestor's lives and stories, I find that these questions are just a relevant and applicable to my understanding of my ancestors as they are to me. My writing reflects who I am, it represents one of the many reasons why I am here, and it channels how I choose to proceed with this next phase of my life. On the other hand, I search out who my ancestors are, what they contributed or what their purpose might have been, and, finally, how they chose to embody that purpose. These are the stories I want to tell.
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