I Am That
Have you ever had your DNA analyzed? If so, you know that it can be a great way to realize “I am that.” “That”, of course, is everything. So, it can help you realize the Oneness that you already are. How?
Recent Ancestral Story
The first thing it does is illuminate your recent ancestral story. If you get your DNA run by ancestry sites, they really focus on the last two to three hundred years. The accuracy depends on the amount of data that scientists have to compare your DNA to. For example, if you are light skinned, they are going to have lots more data to compare than if you have more melanin. Still, many people can only go back two generations, so this provides a lot of new illuminating information.
For example, a friend’s mother told her that her father was Middle Eastern. Her DNA revealed that her recent ancestors were 100% from the British Isles. Another friend’s family lore said that they were Native American. Nope! She actually got her tawny huge from the Middle East. Many white supremacists are surprised to find that they actually have pigment in their family tree.
Nobody is “ethnically pure.” There is no such thing. In fact, the last two hundred years of our family history is often very different from what our oral history and imagination tells us. Knowing the facts can help to erase misconceptions, broaden your view of identity, and anchor you in your bones.
Get the Stories
Once you have some hard facts, you can research the stories. If your ancestors were a part of literate empires (versus pre-literate tribal cultures), there are often great records that can be uncovered.
I am fortunate that my father has uncovered thousands of family connections stretching back a thousand years in one line. If you are lucky, you can connect to someone who has done the same and save yourself a ton of work. Check out ancestry.com or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
As I look at my family tree, I see criminals, incest, philanthrope, genius, slaves, slave owners, people who successfully resisted colonialism, soldiers, generals, poverty, wealth, business owners, unwed parents, alcoholics, musicians, and religious zealots. I see strength, beauty, and challenges. The rainbow of stories that suggests I am everything. I am that.
If you pop your raw DNA results into Gedmatch, you can analyze your archaic DNA. This story goes where the paper trail dies. It can provide a fascinating look at human migration as well as your ancestral story. For example, as I look at my archaic DNA, I see that I have Denisovan ancestry. Denisovan people lived in a cave in Siberia between 55,000 and 287,000 years ago! That’s a long way from where their descendant’s footsteps lead.
I also share DNA with the Kennewick man! Kennewick man is the remains of the oldest Native American DNA in North America. He lived in what is now Washington state 8,500 years ago. That goes back way before oral family history or recorded records. This type of data can give you such a broader picture of who your people were and who you are.
For me, it’s humbling. Although I deeply connect to my culture and recent dead, this stretches my roots much deeper into the soil, my bones, and eternity. It brings to mind a quote from Caligula.
I have existed from the morning of the world and I shall exist until the last star falls from the night.
Wow! I am that. …and you are too.
If you look at your family tree and all you can see is nuts, look beyond that. There is much more to you than your recent dead. There are apples, oaks, cedars, yews, mimosas, redwoods, pines, hawthorns, cherries, and everything imaginable.
The next time you have a bad moment, remember that within you is the DNA of people who traveled widely, escaped misery, loved, died, and conquered fear. Within you is the love of thousands who came together to create you. Before that, we were all stardust. So imagine what adventures lie ahead!
For me, remembering my ancestors is about remembering who I am. Staying connected to who I am keeps me grounded, humble, and compassionate towards those who are suffering with ignorance, want, greed, and fear. I am that. Sometimes I forget and live there too. Many generations within me did too. All it takes for me to change things up is to remember that I am light and dark. I can then choose where I want to stand today.
Note: Scientists took DNA from Havasupai tribal members for a diabetes study, then used it for other purposes. FamilyTreeDNA secretly used information in its database to catch criminals. Be sure that you are fully aware of how your DNA can be used before signing consent for any DNA test.