Saturday, January 28, 2017
When Life Gets in the Way of Genealogy
I spent a pleasant afternoon helping a friend do some very complicated research concerning his Welsh ancestors. We ended up looking at three large rolls of microfilm that turned out to be all in Welsh (Cymraeg or y Gymraeg). Needless to say, my friend was discouraged. Of course, I just looked at the situation as normal.
Another good friend succumbed to the dangers of snow and ice and fell on his way walking to the BYU Family History Library. Unfortunately, he will be laid up for a month or so recovering from the fall. My friends in Mesa, Arizona would point at this incident as a reason to move from the Frozen North to the lovely dessert. I would simply note that I have had any number of my friends in Mesa suffer from falls from even more mundane things than ice and snow. In fact, I had two or more rather spectacular falls walking from my car to my office on sunny, very dry days.
These two experiences actually have a lot in common. Life presents itself as a series of events. Not all of them are unfortunate (despite the perspective of Lemony Snicket) but many of things that happen to us seem to directly affect our desire and/or our ability to find our ancestors. From my own perspective, I try to see all these obstacles as stones in the path to be stepped over rather than using them as reasons to give up and to quit trying.
Genealogy has its triumphs, but it also has its days, weeks, months and sometimes years of hard work and frustration. Finding out that your ancestors spoke a language you do not know and probably do not want to learn is just one of the more obvious issues. Since many of us are at a certain age when just getting up and moving around can be a challenge, sitting all day in front of a computer or microfilm reader hour after hour does not have the same attraction it did just a few short years ago.
Most of us are also wrapped up in family, work and leisure activities that do not include a lot of genealogical research. I have any number of friends and acquaintances that do not think that sitting in a library all day is an attractive activity. So, being caught between the physical limitations and surrounded by alternative activity choices has a strong influence on the amount of time most are willing to dedicate to genealogy.
Then why do some of us elect to break the mold and spend an extraordinary amount of time doing genealogical research and closely related activities? Good question. Some of us claim a religious motivation. Some claim benefits of personal insight from learning about their ancestors. Beyond these justifications, there are those of us who feel a compulsion. Being in the latter capacity, I don't really have to get into deep introspection; I just do genealogy all day and sometimes most of the night.