The Genealogy Journey

The newbie genealogist's resource for books, mags, databases, and -- of course -- any free research stuff to be found on the Internet.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Genealogy Isn't Just "Back Then" ... It's Right Now

Cyndi Lee, on her OM Yoga in a Box DVD, says our thoughts are always focused on what happened in the past or what could happen in the future -- rarely in the present. Someone else -- I can't remember who -- called our state of constant thinking "the monkey brain." Yet the times I’m truly enjoying life are when I’m completely immersed in what's happening now.

If you feel your enthusiasm for tracing your family tree is waning, shift your perspective. Think about genealogy as happening right now. Imagine your great-great-grandchildren sifting through your mementos, heirlooms, and yes, even your e-mail, trying to get an idea of the person you once were.

I’m not saying you have to save every scrap of paper or every e-mail (unless you have a Google gmail account!), but before it goes in the trash, decide if this item will help future generations understand you better. The garbage bill? Definitely not. But your Macy’s credit card bill? Maybe … if shopping is your passion. And that sincere thank you note from a business associate? Definitely. Our descendants aren’t as interested in the special events in our life as they are the day-to-day moments; how we lived, what we were like, and who we loved.

It’s ironic that usually it’s only the certificates recording those special events in our ancestor’s lives (marriages, births, etc.) that are left behind, when what we really care about are those little things that define the shape of a life. A diary. Love letters. Delicate baby clothes. An old watch.

Every day, do something to record your day-to-day life. Start a blog or write in a journal. Videotape your family eating breakfast. Send a letter. Help the world remember that you were here.

~Mary Kaye

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