Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Watching the clouds - a genealogical parable.

When I was a lot younger, I spent whole summers reading and walking in the desert south of my home. My usual schedule was to wake up, read for a few hours, take a long walk or hike out into the desert, return home and read long into the night. Then do it all over the next day. Part of the ritual of walking out into the desert was watching the thunder clouds build up over the mountains and speculating whether or not one or more of them would break loose and sail out over the dry hills leaving a trail of rain. If I could see one was about to move, I would walk back to the house, get my car, and drive out into desert on the dirt roads until I was in the path of the storm. If I was lucky enough to have the rain go over me, I would jump out and dance around in the rain. Once the rain stopped, usually within a few minutes, I would drive home to start reading again.

My youthful activities may seem rather tame for most teenagers, but I was enthralled with the books and with the desert. What does this have to do with genealogy? Everything. My research is like my reading and my searching for ancestors is like walking in the desert. Like the clouds on the horizon, I am always seeking something that is in the distance but seems impossible to reach. Every once and while I see something promising and race to the conclusion. When I find what I am looking for, it is like dancing in the rain in the desert. But the rain is always temporary. I always find another and yet another research goal. I am never satisfied with my research and I never stop. Day after day. I pursue the elusive goal of the faraway hills where the I won't have to chase the storms.

I guess I am still watching the clouds.

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