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Family Resemblance

Monday, May 21, 2012

Jason Poole, Accidental Hawaiian Crooner, NYC, High Line

Mom, Dad and I on the High Line in NYC (Winter 2011)

Something startled me yesterday morning.

I was looking at my face in the mirror while I was shaving, making sure not to cut myself.  I turned my head slightly to get a better angle for shaving my chin and for an instant, it was as though I was looking at my father.

I mean, it REALLY looked my dad’s face in the mirror.  Something about the angle and the way I had my mouth fixed.  It was kind of surreal.

It made me stop for a minute and really look at myself.  I began moving my face around slightly–and with each move, it was as though I was transforming myself into another relative.  Almost like something you might see in a sci-fi movie.  If I raised my eyebrows, I resembled my mother.  If I puffed out my cheeks like my nephew does, it was like it was HIS face staring back at me and not mine.

I was blown away by the family resemblance.

And it got me thinking:  it’s not really that strange.  We all share the same DNA so we have similar characteristics.  And those characteristics have been passed down from generation to generation.

Right?

Same family tree…

Pops and I at Moʻoʻula Falls (Molokai, HI 2008)

But then I started thinking about Pops and how I resemble him even though we DON’T  share any family DNA.

I sound like him when I speak Hawaiian–his voice is the voice I hear in my head.  My reference point for the language.  I gesture like him when I teach.  I use similar examples, similar stories to illustrate a point.  And I’ve picked up his mannerisms over the years, physically resembling him, as well.  I can hear Mom Solatorio saying to me, “You look so much like Pops when you do that!”

(Fun Fact:  Pops and I made a recording one night–really late at night while we stayed up in Kaunakakai–strumming the ʻukulele and taking turns singing lead and harmony on an old Hawaiian song.  Here’s the crazy thing:  when I played it back, we couldn’t tell who was singing which part.  Our voices sounded identical at that point!)

And then I thought about how so many of of my friends who were adopted as children “look like” their adopted families–even though they don’t share DNA, either.

So I thought some more.

Maybe family resemblance is a lot more than just DNA.  Maybe it’s a combination of all sorts of contributing factors.

Maybe it just goes to show you that we’re amazingly adaptable creatures that form families–by blood, by choice.

Like Pops says, “E ʻohana mākou.”  We’re family.

And the family tree continues.

Right on.

What do YOU think about family resemblance?  Drop me a line!  I’d love to hear from you!

10 Responses to “Family Resemblance”

  1. Jean Sun Shaw says:

    When i was a kid i noticed how many of the “old” married couples look alike. Perhaps they start taking on each other’s mannerism and expressions. Possible?

  2. Steph says:

    Ooooh! I loved this one. Everyone always said you and I look alike! And then I was also thinking about how some people look like their dogs….how weird is that? Though if I could look like any dog, I’d want to look like Rocky :-)

  3. Dara says:

    I agree with your pops completely. We’re family. And those we choose to make our intimate family definitely start resembling each other. Mannerisms change & adapt…. non-verbal communication alters so that we can “talk” more efficiently. And in turn, look alike!

  4. Jason Poole says:

    @ Jean: I TOTALLY think that’s possible! I’m constantly being told, “You look like your mother.” But it’s usually when I move my mouth in a certain way. I’m sure it’s the physical gesture that triggers the “your resemble…” response in people that know her. I’m hoping that I take on more of Pops’ mannerisms, too. Will be good to help carry those on. Much Aloha to you.

  5. Jason Poole says:

    @ Steph: Ah! The “you look like your dog!” I love that! And it’s so true! We see it all the time here in NYC with the dog “parents” taking their “babies” for a walk. I always wonder if they chose that specific dog because it looks like them–you know, like maybe they’re instinctively attracted to it because it’s familiar. And Rocky is a good looking gal! I wouldn’t mind being likened to her!

  6. Jason Poole says:

    @ Jeanie: Thank you, Ms. Jeanie. I appreciate that.

  7. Jason Poole says:

    @ Dara: TOTALLY! I think we all start to pick up vocal mannerisms, physical gestures, etc. James is always laughing when I get home from Molokai–saying it’s like I’m a different person. It’s just because I’ve immersed myself into extremely close contact with the Molokai family and I’ve picked up their patterns. I totally agree with you. Mahalo for that!

  8. Kawena says:

    I can totally relate! I’m starting to see more of my mother in pictures of myself. It’s wild. I also grew up with a stepfather, and most people used to say how much I looked like my dad. I find that sometimes I say things, expressions I’ve picked up from friends over the years that have now become mine.

  9. Jason Poole says:

    @ Kawena: Mahalo for sharing that! Yup… I totally agree… we end up “looking like” each other, for sure. I think the folks in my graduating class in college started to look alike–we’d picked up each other’s mannerisms and gestures and expressions. Same language–both spoken and body. So glad you carry your stepfather’s traits–it solidifies your bond!