12/03/2010 01:58 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Discovering What Unites Us All

We are all sons and daughters.

This truth unites all people from all parts of the world.

It doesn't matter if our parents are living or dead, whether we knew them or not, whether we liked them or not, we are only here because of our ancestors.

Many of us don't think about it, but our identity as a son or a daughter is a gateway.

Through it, we can learn about our own heritage, we can practice compassion and we can discover something universal about human experience.

Would you like to link into this universal connection? I will outline in this blog a simple, two-step process to begin your adventure. Here's step one:

Find a private, quiet and comfortable chair in a private, quiet and comfortable room. Once you are ready, sit down. Close you eyes and picture your mother or father, grandmother or grandfather, uncle or aunt or even a non-relative -- any ancestor to whom you feel closely connected. Then, with your eyes closed, silently give them your love and honor them from your heart.

When we carefully listen to someone's story and re-tell it, we honor that person - whether blood relation or spiritual kin. Saving a life story in this way gives new people a chance to know the old stories. It also gives us a chance to pass along these stories to future generations.

I think of it this way -- life stories anchor us in the past, connect us in the present and enrich us in the future.

Unfortunately, it only takes one break in the chain to lose all the wisdom, the folly, the joy, the suffering, the compassion and the humor the stories contain, to lose even the memory of the people who lived the stories.

On the other hand, it only takes one affirmative decision to keep the chain whole and give ancestors and descendants fresh opportunities to connect.

To acknowledge yourself as a son or daughter is to recognize your place in the continuing story of humanity. To save someone's life story is to stand up for that continuity.

So what are you waiting for? Here's the second step:

Go back to your private, quiet, comfortable place. This time make sure you have pen and paper available. Close your eyes. Think of your ancestor. What is the first story that comes to mind? Write it down in a brief form. Is this person alive? Is someone who knew them alive? You may have questions. Pick up the phone, ask the person (or the someone) for coffee and a conversation. An adventure has begun.

Please let me know what you experienced. Feel free to post the stories of your ancestors below.

I'll leave you with a poem I wrote about the subject:

All sons or daughters

We owe our existence to others

Who owe still others

Always in debt

Always in receipt

Never alone

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