I was talking the other day to a friend, of how important it is for people to keep a personal identity that is distinguishable.
We were talking of those who make the decision to move to a different city or country, thus walking away from their roots.
Those who made this move, as she and I did, face the problem of keeping their identity, even whilst accepting to integrate in the host country’s culture, sharing its habits.
We asked ourselves some questions:
- where is the boundary between keeping and adapting one’s identity?
- how important is keeping the distinctive traits of one’s origins?
- what cultural, family and personal heritage do we carry with us?
Our conversation brought up further questions, from which I have drawn an interesting picture.
As I was driving home after we had said goodbye, I thought of what we had said to each other, and I concluded:
the change or loss of our origins is not determined by the fact we move, by itself; what matters is the conscious decision of keeping them alive and current in our personal history and in our mind.
The memory of our origins can be kept alive through specific behaviours and external signs that can set us apart from the “mass”, which instead looks like it craves being confused and lost into something grey and shapeless, totally anonymous and deprived of its identity.
I want to talk to you about people like you and me, people who dislike being thrown into a group, or into the “mass” – which is even worse.
Independence is our mantra, we want to be unique, to be told apart, only conform to ourselves. We loathe being pigeonholed into a context of actions or thoughts in common with masses of other people.
We want to choose where to place ourselves, with whom to associate.
We are selective; and yes, maybe we are even a bit self-opinionated.
In my own case, this behaviour was dictated by a string of experiences that I had along my life.
I am not easy to please, and I have always preferred solitude to the shapeless mass of diverse humanity.
I carefully handpick people I want to hang out with, and with the same care, I choose the places that I go to.
What makes you and me independent and proud people is choice.
Belonging to an élite can be a source of great pride.
This is exactly what I want to talk to you about.
How important is it for you that you identify with your history and with your family’s?
You can give your family’s history the place it deserves through a graphic symbol that reaps its moral and material heritage.
Something that reminds all your friends and acquaintances the greatness of your roots, something of which to be proud.
This symbol is your family’s heraldic coat of arms.
If you already own one, you have an advantage; if you do not, I am truly sorry for you!
Many say that nowadays a family coat of arms makes no more sense, has no more reason to be; it is anachronistic and antisocial.
This is the voice of the “mass”, the one I was telling you about, the amorphous, flat mass that is unable of developing a personal idea, but rather prefers conforming to a common thought.
I don’t mind telling you that I, too, have a family coat of arms, on my mother’s side; and I refused it for a long time. Only lately, have I accepted and appreciated it.
I mistakenly believed that having a family coat of arms was a reason for division and conflict, almost for shame.
I spent part of my life believing that conforming and adapting was the right choice, the most acceptable from the social standpoint.
We all want to be accepted; being rejected, put aside, can hurt.
I did not understand that conforming would never give me what I wanted: a place in my mind where I would finally feel at home, somewhere I belonged and I could feel at ease.
I was betraying my origins, which belonged to me.
What made the difference, in my case, was my stance: acceptance instead of resignation.
An active stance instead of a passive one.
I researched, and tapped into the oral tradition of my family.
One of my first cousins has made an excellent work of investigation, of which I made use.
I discovered an interesting family history, sometimes glorious, some other more banal, never boring.
A crest showed up; in gold and blue, graphically plain and direct.
We are Vikings, Normans, Maltese and Sicilians. Traders in precious silk, great owners of prestigious buildings, with the title of counts. An extended family: I have 22 first cousins.
The oral tradition tells of great adventures, and of reversals of fortune, such as after the Earthquake of Messina in 1908, which deeply marked my family.
My elder cousins, who had the good fortune to meet my maternal grandfather Oreste, tell of the long hours they spent entertained by his storytelling, of horses, elegant parties, clothes made of precious fabrics.
He would tell stories of taking lessons in opera singing, of private tutors of Latin, philosophy and mathematics, of his joyrides on his bicycle.
His good mood was compelling, and he deeply doted on his children and grandchildren.
He was a born entertainer, a natural.
I did not have the pleasure of meeting him in person: his myth survives in his children and grandchildren’s memory.
To me, my mother Ines is the spokesperson, the keeper of his immortal spirit.
A family of entrepreneurs, which passed on to me the taste for challenge, along with a rebellious spirit – and a number of freckles on my face.
Together with the memories and the storytelling, what remains is our coat of arms: a blindfolded falcon standing on three mountains, gold on blue, surmounted by three stars of gold.
At the request of my mother, I made the coat of arms in mosaic. It is kept in the family home.
I can almost hear my forebears’ voice: “you made it! At last you understood.”
Yes, I understood that handing down such a precious heritage as the history of my own family is priceless.
Now you have this opportunity, too.
Let me tell you what you can do to MAKE YOUR FAMILY IDENTITY EVEN MORE ELITIST AND UNREACHABLE:
you can make your history IMMORTAL through a material, tangible work.
Something you can touch and see; something that keeps alive the memory, like an art mosaic, handmade with the most precious materials this ancient art can use: Venetian glass enamels, 24-kt gold, and natural marble stone.
A combination of traditions: Italian art mosaic, and the history of your family.
If you own a coat of arms, you can achieve this result; however, you must consider that Italian art mosaic by MosArtek IS NOT FOR EVERYBODY.
I’m telling you now, for the sake of clarity: I do not accept all requests and proposals I receive.
There is a very strict selection at the outset, there is the MosArtek Specification to comply with, and I shall personally survey the location where you plan to place the mosaic; not all locations are appropriate.
I suggest that you visit www.mosartek.ch/location and have a look at what I wrote on the subject.
Enjoy the read!
All visuals © SilviaJencinella – MosArtek GmbH