After over ten years of neglect, I’ve returned again to pay more attention to my on-again-off-again genealogy project.
My “True Life” web project was at one point the home for my genealogical research, hosting a family tree, a name index, and over fifty personal stories. I kind of looked at the project as if it had two sides: a subjective side (my personal stories and memories of growing up), and an objective side (the names, dates, events, and places that were documented in various online databases). There are many dualities like this in my life, from contrasts between people with different personalities, to the conflicted, contradictory natures at work inside each of us.
For whatever reason, at some point back in 2009 or so, I just stopped searching and building, I stopped corresponding with distant relatives, and I wrote few family memory stories in “True Life”. Whether I got burned-out on the project, or other disruptions in my life just got in the way, I cannot say for sure – the project just stopped moving forward.
Flash forward to 2018, and life caused me to do some serious mental and physical cleaning up: a renovation to our building forced me to clean out a lot of junk, and to confront my pack-rat mentality and all the dust bunnies that had burrowed in around the edges of everything in my home. I learned to let things go, and to detach from some of the obsession and internal symbolism that had been some of the early fuel that drove me. Maybe clearing out some old junk physically and psychologically had created new space in which ideas could be revisited.
This Christmas, after I treated myself to a new laptop, I reinstalled Family Tree Maker and started exploring Ancestry.ca again. It felt warm and pleasant to revisit the tree as a structure, a framework and model of my family history. All the names and dates and whatnot were still preserved there, but while I’d been doing whatever else over the past ten years, I was happy to see that Ancestry had also provided lots of new suggestions and hints to add to my old 2009 Family Tree database file.
The next rediscovery was in my old 2008 emails with two gentlemen who were related to my Mother’s and Father’s side of the family, each of whom had originally contacted me after seeing my tree published online. I decided to reach out to them again and also to re-read their old emails, which had been packed with information that Ancestry had only hinted at in its “Notifications”. It was low-hanging fruit still waiting to be picked.
It has all helped me to recall that there’s a rich history still worth discovering and exploring, and a giant puzzle that’s worth trying to complete.