This I Believe

Tracey - Las Vegas, Nevada
Entered on September 11, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: family, legacy


I believe that everyone should climb a tree.

Most everyone has climbed a tree as a child. Somewhere between the prickles of puberty and trying to climb the serious rungs of corporate ladders hewn by trees, we all forget how enjoyable climbing a tree can be. Regardless of our physical agility and age, we can all still climb one very important tree…our Family Tree.

Climbing your family tree can also been known as “doing genealogy” or “heritage hunting”, “digging for your roots” or just trying to figure out where that red headed kid of yours came from. Alex Haley explained it well when he said

“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage – to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in this life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness.” (What Root’s Means to Me,” Readers Digest, May 1977).

I believe that people innately want to know where they come from and to feel like they are connected with something bigger than just their own life.

Genealogy is not family group records, pedigree charts, microfilms, technical regulations or lengthy lists of “he begets.” These are only some of the tools.

Each person’s life is connected to those who came before, as well as to those who are yet to come. There is a single thread that ties those heartstrings together. To study one’s family is to study one’s self. While facts such as names, locations, and dates are the skeleton of a genealogist’s work, to flesh out a family’s personal history is what makes the search rewarding. A part of our ancestors lives still, deep within us.

When I was in college I would work hard to finish assigned projects and papers so I could “reward” myself with well deserved time in the genealogy library section of our campus library. After several hours digging through microfilms I had found some records that were revealing extra families I had been searching for. The library lights were dimming and music was being played on the speakers in warning to students that the library would be closing within 15 minutes. My pulse was racing with the clock as I read hurriedly through the films. At least 45 minutes later after recording details from my new discovery, I meandered out behind my sacred cove to the exit of the library. My evening would have been perfect, except for the security guard, which halted my escape and began to interrogate me as to why I was still in the library. After trying to explain to him of my great genealogical discovery and the urgent need to complete the task, he rolled his eyes with intolerance and unlocked the doors for my exit. Trying to explain to someone about a precious genealogical find, who doesn’t share the obsession with genealogy, is like trying to explain the savor of salt to someone who has never tasted it.

So what is it that keeps family history seekers going even after hours of tedious research? It’s the little successes of finding that special name or document to prove relationships. There is a pull, an urge and even a power that propels their quest. It is the spiritual element. It’s as if they hear “whispers through the leave’s as they climb their family trees. I believe everyone should climb their own family tree. Most family trees have more fruits and nuts than famous roots and all the leaves make for an interesting tree. In our fast-paced society of high technology and futuristic thinking, I believe it’s good for the soul, and body to climb a tree and remember the past.