Saturday, November 27, 2010

Five Year Anniversary Post



I've seen or read more than one narrative that centers around an adult learning something about his or her childhood and background that calls into question what they thought they knew about their heritage. Perhaps they find out something shocking about their actual paternity or maternity, or they learn that a grandparent was a spy, or the family dog was actually a robot. And frequently in these stories such revelations occur in a holiday setting, when a family reunites and conversation turns to the past.

To a very small degree, I may have had such an experience over Thanksgiving dinner this year. Growing up, I had always thought that my ethnic background was German, Polish, and Swiss. I was under the impression that my paternal grandmother was full-blooded Swiss--she was a first-generation American, after all. But as of this week I found out that her dad (my great-grandfather, whom I never knew) was born in Austria. There was some debate among my family (still left unresolved) as to whether his heritage was Austrian or Swiss. Speculation turned to his religious affiliation and the cemetery that he was buried in--knowledge that was not previously transmitted to my generation.

Although the discussion did not resolve anything, it did leave me with an impression. It feels odd to know so little about an ancestor who is really not that far removed from me. I'm sure he had interesting stories and perspectives based on his cultural experiences, and of course, his decisions directly impacted my very existence. But he left behind no real record of who he was or what he thought. And these reflections motivate me to want to provide something for future generations, so perhaps my kid's grandson will know me as more than an abstract name that the older folks bandy about.

I've written before about how this blog could be a legacy. As I wrote in that post, when I started this five years ago (and we are now at the five-year anniversary of the first post), I never thought about this possibility. But of course, a blog that is created for the express purpose of communicating to the future is doomed to fail. Paradoxically, one needs to be very much in the present in order to formulate anything worth saying to the future.

But of course, five years on from that first post, I find myself in that author's future. Never mind the potential to communicate with my great-grandchildren, this blog also allows me to communicate with my past self. By forcing myself to write something every week, I have embedded in amber small artifacts of not only my thoughts, but my very consciousness. I have left evidence for myself and others that not only have I lived from 2005 to 2010 in the physical sense, but I have lived in the intellectual sense. My mind has been active, alert, and aware, responding to both the world around me and the world inside of me.

Let me stress that this does not make me special--I'm sure the above description of my consciousness could equally apply to everybody else. But not everybody has a record of that consciousness. And I can speak from experience when I say that having such a record is fulfilling. I try to sell my classes on the "generative power of writing"--the idea that one gets in touch with thoughts that would otherwise have never been unlocked if not for the act of composing words on a screen or page. I can also testify that this happens to me on a near weekly basis because of my self-imposed requirement to post a blog entry. I wish that others would experience such fulfillment, both in the act of composing and in the lasting knowledge that such a composition exists.

1 Comments:

Blogger Teecycle Tim said...

I think you may have started blogging at the exact same time as Krista, who I met through blogging: http://krittabug.com/2010/11/i-am-thankful/

1:45 PM  

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