Sometime when Adam and Noah were really young the Terrell family started going to a Thanksgiving day afternoon movie (I know we were doing this by at least 1999 because I remember us going to see Toy Story 2 with my parents). Yesterday we went to see Pixar’s latest movie, Coco.
The plot references the Mexican holiday of Día de Muertos (which is why I immediately texted Eric G afterwards to tell him to take Natalie to watch it). The main character, Miguel, deals with the ramifications of his family’s past while trying to chase his future. He does this by meeting and interacting with the past family members whose choices have influenced his present. There are several scenes of the dead walking around and “interacting” with the world of the living. In the movie the dead are still with us.
First, you should go see it. The movie is really good.
Second, it got me to thinking about the dead still being with us. I don’t mean this in some strange ghostly sense. Nope, I am thinking of the influence of our past family members on our present lives. For good and for bad. I have relatives that I have never known (because they were generations ago or they were gone) who have influenced my present life. The movie did a great job of showing this.
The main character, Miguel, is a child and the movie shows how his great, great, grandfather and great, great grandmother shaped his life. I’m not spoiling anything here but the plot revolves around the way the family lives out the choice that the great, great grandmother makes concerning music out of her anger concerning the great, great grandfather’s choice to be a traveling musician. That simple choice influences the way four generations of the family live their lives. This family’s dead relatives are still walking around them during their daily lives.
This is true of all of us in real life, for good and bad, even if certain family members’ were absent. For example, my biological paternal grandfather’s choice to run out on my dad, aunt, and grandmother shaped a large part of my life even though I only met my dad’s father once. My mom’s dad didn’t make such a choice. He wanted to be there with his family. Sickness made the choice of leaving for him. He was so sick that my parent’s wedding was moved up so he could know that my mom was married before he passed away. He was way too sick to attend the bumped up wedding. I never met my mom’s dad. My mother’s dad’s absence shaped my grandmother, and parents’ lives, and thereby my, Pam’s, and our kids lives’. The circumstances of both my grandfathers’ absences are why I have fishing lures that belong to my mom’s dad and nothing that belonged to my dad’s father. The dead still walk with us.
To quote William Faulkner from Requiem for a Nun
The past is never dead. It’s not even past.
Our present lives and choices are shaped by the lives and choices of those who went before us, and our choices and lives will shape the lives and choices of those who come after us. Therefore, it is our responsibility to consider how our behavior is shaped by the past so we are able to continue what is good and helpful, and change what is harmful for the future. As I have previously written several times – The dead still walk with us.