Thursday, January 26, 2006

Future in the past?

Many years ago, an Astrologer told me that my chart indicated that one of my purposes in life was to be a Social Documentarian. At the time, it sounded a bit too much like a Johovah's Witness for my taste and I ignored the comment (along with the Astrologer's affected mid-Eastern accent since he was an American of Nordic descent).

Now that I am semi-obsessed (in an attention-deficit kind of way) with tracing my roots, I think the Astrologer may have been on to something. I'm fascinated with my family's past and I've taken it upon myself to document it.

When Tess and I were in Boise for Thanksgiving, I raided my mom's photo album collection and brought several back with me. I am slowly but methodically going through the albums and scanning the images to put with names on the family tree I am creating. I've grown to appreciate those old snapshots as the few artifacts remaining of many of my relatives lives.

If you stop to think about it (and I do quite often as I age), very few of us will be remembered for long after we die. I am not being morbid, just practical. Unless you achieve some modicum of fame in your lifetime, you time on this planet will likely pass undocumented. Biographies are rarely written about patent clerks unless they go on to develop a theory of relativity.

Let's face it, even those attempts in history to defy obscurity are frustrated by time. Everyone has heard of the great pyramids in Egypt, but how many of you can name the Pharohs who built any of them.

But I'm trying to change all of that for my family. Or at least I'm trying to change it for the ones I can trace. And as fate would have it, I have the tools to help make that happen. I don't think I could have even attempted documenting things in this fashion even ten years ago. Now I have scanners, the Internet and digital cameras at my fingertips.

In an odd way, I think I'm looking for my own immortality in my family tree. I've convinced myself that by remembering them, I'll be remembered. Or maybe it is just by knowing where I come from, I might have more control of where I will end up.

Or maybe I'm just building a pyramid that Centuries from now someone will look at and say, "Why the hell did someone pile all of these rocks here?"
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