Sunday, October 4, 2009

Watching Over My Shoulder

Like many of you, I spend considerable time doing genealogical research on my family lines.  My forays into the past often overtake my perception of where and when I am.   My mind and efforts constrict to a fine focus on the quest to find records, proofs, information and details about my ancestors lives.   I put headphones on, start the music or video library playing in a small window on my left screen for background ‘noise’ and leave the world to fend for itself. 

Frequently, I don’t remember eating, drinking or involvement in any other activity until I notice that the sun has arisen again and that I’m so stiff it is hard to stand up.  My sweet wife has apparently brought sustenance to me and checked on me from time to time to confirm that I’m in a ‘genatonic’ state and not a catatonic state, although I was on my own during the wee hours of the night.  

Death CertificateSunday afternoon has magically transformed into Monday morning.  If music was playing at the beginning of my session, it is still playing.  My library is large enough to play new songs continuously for days.  I’ve been unconsciously entertained the whole time.  If a movie was playing when I moved into my ‘genamension’ (genealogical dimension), it is still playing.  I have no recollection of restarting it over and over nor do I remember viewing any of its scenes.  The permanent ringing in my ears was offset by the soundtrack, which helped keep the world at bay so I could concentrate.

Glancing down, I realize that I’m holding a document in my hands from my quest.  On rare occasion it is the original that I’ve retrieved from my files, but usually, it is a copy that I’ve found while I’ve been traversing the halls of time.  Often, there are stacks of printed documents to the side of my keyboard, waiting to be filed in sleeves in my storage binders. 

Checking the records in my database, I note that I’ve dutifully transcribed them as sources in the records for the associated people.  Their respective document images have been cleaned up, straightened, resized, linked to my database sources and saved in the various source folders on the multiple storage drives that I use to store my records.  I marvel at all of the records that are now online and on My Shoulder

Reading the image of the last found death record on my right screen brings a image of the person to my mind.  I know them on some deeper level than just the dates and places that I’ve discovered in my genamensional journey.  Often, I know what they sounded like, what they wore and how their houses and farms were organized.  

I am inseparably bonded to them from that point in time on.

Where did that knowledge come from?

Someone has been watching over my shoulder.

They have been whispering to me all night long, guiding my quest, cheering me on and celebrating when they are finally ‘found’.  They are mine now.  I am theirs.  The bond and ties have and will be made permanent in the coming days.

If you are intently involved in a similar quest for your own ancestors, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  If anyone were to ask you about a member of your ancestry that you’ve worked diligently to find, then they need to be prepared to sit down and listen to you describe them and their story.  They have become part of the fabric of your being.  Indeed, you are inseparably bonded to them.

On the web, the story of Sara Beth’s quest to find her 5th great grandmother, Sylvia Lewis Tyler, in her blog postings resonates with us, because Family Bible we understand exactly how she feels.  We know why she is so excited to have touched Sylvia’s journal and to have found her grave.  We celebrate her discovery with her.

I’m looking forward to celebrating the discoveries of others who are seeking to know their own lineage and family history.  BYU Broadcasting has created a new program called, “The Generations Project” that will start airing in January, 2010.  It is already on my calendar with a reminder that will start flashing on January 1 to find the exact time of its broadcast.

The sneak preview on the site shows a young lady who has slipped into her own genamension as she progresses from painting concentric circles to start her new painting to their unknown ancestral relevance in the process of her ancestral quest.  The full show should be fascinating.

What are your genamensional stories?  Post them on your blog and send me a note.  I’ll link them here.



Cindy said...

This is a fantastic, poetic way to describe a journey that many of us are on. I'm sure that all of us have "woke up" to realize that hours have somehow slipped by, in the wee hours of the morning. When I finally do retire, my mind is filled with the loose ends that somehow creep into your thoughts when you are away from the ancestors. Thanks for sharing this with us, it is beautiful.