The Call of Life

by Anna

What is the purpose of living? And why do we carry on producing offspring to further populate an already overcrowded planet? Are we unconsciously preparing for an expedition to Mars after all?

20 000 years ago it was the declining ice cover over northern Europe that enabled Helena, my mitochondrial mother, to move further north from southern France and discover unknown territory. It must have been exciting as well as terrifying and dangerous, to say the least.

20 000 years later I decide to leave my home country of Germany to move to England after accepting a six months work experience placement. I saw it as a stepping stone from which to travel the rest of the world. It was exciting, terrifying but more than anything, I had enough of Germany, a place that didn’t hold much excitement for me anymore at the time.

Friends had fallen out with each other, my part time job had been given to someone else, and actually, something had been missing all along. And I was keen to find out what it was that I was missing out on.

Apart from the known facts that Helena, whose name derives from the haplogroup letter H, was said to belong to the hunter and gatherers, long before humans settled down to farm, one of her main aims was to keep finding food to survive, an important instinct that we still possess today.

When I made the decision to move abroad, my instinct was to find something new, a challenge, somewhere else. English as a language seemed to come easy to me and I enjoyed talking, watching movies and reading in English. I would love to know how Helena communicated and whether her clan had trouble communicating with other clans.

Chalk Cliffs at Dover, UK.

Six months in England have now turned into seven years. How did that happen? And I wonder just how it happened that my ancestors decided to settle in Germany. How did the hunter and gatherers come to begin farming? Because they realised that it was much easier to grow food in close proximity than having to run around in the wild for days to hunt it down.

I have to admit, though I didn’t get very far with my ambitious plans to travel the world, after a decade of discovering myself, beginning by leaving my mother’s house, re-educating myself from graphic design to foreign languages to healthcare, adding complementary therapies, jetting off to inspect far away places like New Zealand and teaching English at Buddhist monasteries in Nepal, I feel like I spent my twenties well with researching my options and playing around with all the possibilities.

I have figured out what I want out of life, realised that the horizon will still be there to discover more if I wish and that I am now ready to lay back and enjoy living my thirties, which would have been a fulfilling middle age for Helena, a little more peaceful.

Well, maybe after the two years university that lie ahead 🙂

I hasten to say that it is more my mental attitude that has changed, more at ease with myself, more accepting of myself and others, a little calmer. Why yes, we are still a constantly evolving species after all.

The genetic mutations that make up our markers which make it possible to establish where our DNA has travelled, are estimated to arise every few thousand years and can be used to give us a rough idea when and where these people lived. What I find interesting is the finding that humans never had a milk digesting enzyme, other than as babies, and that it was a genetic mutation that arouse a few thousand years ago that enabled humans to digest milk from animals. It is suggested that this strand of humans went on to populate Europe, since most Asian and African populations are not able to tolerate milk.

I don’t tolerate milk very well, with the symptoms of headache, bloating, nausea, but my DNA result didn’t include this information, so I don’t know for sure if any of my ancestors carried the lactose tolerating enzyme and if they did, where it began.

I have written before about the story how and why I left Germany, which you can read here if you like. But it is only now that I don’t just consider it a spiritual calling, the influence of reincarnation, but begin to wonder whether it was maybe my genes calling me just as much. How much would a genetic predisposition influence our decision where we feel home?

Only in the last year did I write about my nomadic behaviour of running away in connection with my engagement, about being home where the heart is, reminisced about the winds of change, releasing toy horses and discovered the Buddha within.

Feel free to click on the links and read!

And why do I feel drawn to certain places on the globe and not at all to others? Is it the total unknown that fascinates me or is it familiarities? Can we put any emphasis on these questions at all? I always say that if I had lived a few hundred years ago, I would have discovered the world. Did I?

The end result is that I feel happy where I am and would only consider moving away if I found find that I wasn’t happy anymore. However, I have come to learn to deal with such situations and transform them, which is probably why I am still here.

Did the same happen to Helena and my more recent German ancestors? Did they simply stay where they were because they were happy? Or did other commitments keep them bound to the area? Did they feel they had to raise children to maintain the family line or did it just happen? Or was it just not possibly for them to pack their bags and run for the hills, like I did?

Even if someone claims to know the answers, there will be hardly any evidence to support them. Which makes this topic so exciting 😉