A continuation of the journey that began on January 1, 2010, recorded in "a year of getting up to meet the day." After 365 consecutive sunrise outings in that year, I couldn't bear to give up the dawn. This blog (no longer daily) will be informed and inspired by the rising light of the morning sun.


Monday, March 14, 2011

why we study history

sunrise: 6:50 (thank you daylight savings time!)

J's father, who died in 2006, has only one sibling still living.  When J's brother planned a possible visit to Uncle T in Texas, it ballooned into a full scale family reunion.  For some reason, the Texas family - which is pretty huge, since one family had 10 children - was barely known by any of J's family as they grew up.

Even though he can't make the reunion trip, J became interested in that branch of his family's history.  He got a trial membership in ancestry.com, and I've barely seen him since.  He is filling in genealogical charts for every branch of his family and mine, tracking some lines back to the 1200's, and discovering lifetime errors in the oral histories that had been passed down to him.

Not only that - he has contacted several family members by phone.  One was a 91 year old great uncle in Washington state.  Neither had any knowledge of the other's existence before, and they talked for 2 hours.  It's pretty cool, overwhelming at times, and the provoker of a great deal of thought about all the people whose lives and stories are somehow linked to our own.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been doing a much smaller retrospect, but maybe no less relevant.  I have been re-reading "a year of getting up to meet the day," my original sunrise blog, with plans to turn it into a book. 

There are so many events I attended, people I spent time with, things that I learned, so many insights that I gained along the way in the course of that year long project -- and I had forgotten so many! 

That is why we study history - our own, our family's, the world's.  One individual human memory is hopelessly limited.  It is no wonder that history constantly repeats itself - no one can remember how it went the first time.  Living in the past is not productive, but looking at the past is enormously so.

We can gain so much insight by recording our thoughts, our observations, our little daily epiphanies.  Then they will be there to remind us, when memory fails.

Back yard update:

The same bird from last March seems to have returned to the same region of our back field, snow notwithstanding.  After a snowy winter, the pond looks to be skatable for the first time this year, after all that rain.  And at last, small patches of visible ground are appearing, but it will be a very long time before all traces of snow have gone.

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