I was listening to some John Fahey music and began to realize that I was another year older and that some of my early goals were gone forever. I used to sing and play the guitar in folk groups and made a little money now and again. But time, work and family finally killed off my guitar efforts. I don't really regret it but when I hear Jerry Garcia or Leo Kottke, I sometimes feel like in my next life, I would like to spend time becoming really good at playing the guitar.
Now you are back to the same old question, what on earth does this have to do with genealogy? Well, if you think about it for a minute you will probably come to the realization of our commonly shared mortality. Each of us have our allotted time here on earth and I believe how we spend that time determines how we will spend eternity. As I grew older, I realized that playing the guitar would never support my family nor would it be ultimately satisfying as a long term activity. Now, you might have completely different interests than I have and you might be a fabulous guitar player, but I had about as good a chance of playing the guitar as well as John Fahey as I did getting to the NBA! That is zero.
I did an assessment of what I did well, or at least slightly better than average and ended up in law. After a few years I realized that I really needed to do something a little more lasting and positive. Since I believe families are forever, I naturally got interested in my family. Well, that turned out to be a rocky road, but at the same time I figured I could do genealogy well and probably a lot better than I could play the guitar.
I think all of genealogy folks have to go through some of the same issues. We have to really decide at some point whether or not we are going to "do" genealogy and become good enough at it to make a difference. Genealogists that have a perspective concerning the long term benefits of their interest spend the time and effort necessary to really learn what they are trying to do. They read about genealogy, take classes and study how to do a better job of researching. The satisfaction comes from finding elusive ancestors, your own or for others. Maybe you are the type of person that can do a whole lot of things well and maybe you are one of those who can only do a very few things at all, in either case, if you are guiding by your interests and if you have or acquire a passion for genealogy, you will become a good researcher.
I may never be the Jerry Garcia of the genealogy world, but I as long as I can help, teach and inspire one more person to find an ancestor, I am doing what I love to do best. I no longer do many of the things that filled by younger years, but as long as I can do genealogy I will keep looking and learning. I can't seem to find anything else that I like better, even playing the guitar.