Making Memories

Sometimes when I am on the hunt for a particularly elusive ancestor, I can get lost in the records for hours or days. Free record weekends at Ancestry or Fold3 prey on my time, like virtual Pied Pipers leading me down infinitely branching paths. My lunch breaks evaporate into search sessions at the library (again, free Ancestry access).

At the end of these genealogical binges, I can certainly point to progress made in my files, but I typically feel a degree of guilt for all the late nights and excessive screen time. I begin to understand the encouragement underlying Wordsworth's verse: "Up! Up! my friend and quit your books/ or surely you'll grow double"—a great line to trot out in college when you're tired of studying (not that I would know anything about that).

If we spend all our time researching the past, our descendants may have other peoples stories to read, but what about our own? Without taking the actions and adventures that compose a life worth sharing, we will have no personal narratives to write. Don't get so busy digging for your ancestors that you forget to create new experiences for your grandchildren to marvel over!

Auxier Ridge, Red River Gorge, KY

Take some time this month to intentionally make a memory that you can hand down to your grandchildren. Go on an adventure. Try something new or revisit a favorite place, but with the intention of recording your story for posterity.

When you get back, write a vignette about your experience. Be sure to get descriptive and explain how you felt. Why did you choose that particular adventure? Who were you with, or did you head out alone? Is this something you had done before and, if so, what was different about this time? Share your stories in the comments below (or link to your own blog), and be sure to save your text somewhere that you'll be able to find it again when you get ready to compile your personal narrative.

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