Friday, February 1, 2008

Absorbing or obsessive ?

Ok, so I have touched on some detecting and antique bottles which are both major parts of the absorbing errand that I chose to put myself on. Another is family tree research, which the vast majority of folks would find boring to think about, let alone spend more than a decade actively pursuing as a hobby. During the ten year period of my most intense research it was the only hobby I had time for. If asked at that time what I did for fun, the response was always the same.

I collect dead people.

On Christmas Day, 2005 I published a book marking the ten year anniversary of our research. Our database had grown to well over 3,200 people, and it was time to get something in print. I have decided that for the purposes of this blog, an excerpt from the introduction to my book sums up this part of the errand very well. I may not mention it again. It is as follows:

As human beings each one of us, as a matter of vanity or pride, likes to think of ourselves as a truly unique individual. In a world crowded with billions of other people, this sense of self, works to make a person feel as if they are not a mindless member of the mass as a whole. Each one of us spends a lifetime making endless judgments based on the realm of what we as an individual feel is acceptable, enjoyable, worthy of our time and efforts or what we feel is in the best interest of ourselves and the people we love. All of these decisions in our lives are made using a baseline that each of us has created within ourselves over the time that we have lived. We are self appointed arbiters of right and wrong, good and bad, likes and dislikes in the universe that we create within us. Simply put, me.

The choices that we make concerning our private universe also develops the way that other people perceive us. Whether another person is to despise us or fall in love with us is dependent upon the way that they perceive the individual in question. Just like real universes, we can pull some close to us and within our influence, while others we simply push away. Most of us allow some to get a good idea of what their private universe is like, but we still never lose that sense of “me”.

The obvious flaw in this is that we are born into this world without this baseline. The experience that allows us to make these important decisions is instilled into us by persons that have pulled us into their influence, most importantly of which are the people who saw fit to bless us with life itself. The early stages of the unique individual are made of building blocks provided by our immediate ancestors, our mothers and fathers. They in turn are making judgments in your best interest using a baseline which was greatly influenced by the previous generation, and so on. It is safe to say that most of what makes up you as and individual has been in development through countless generations before you. Simply put, you are a product of them.

As a child you are given a collection of these building blocks, be it biological or by personal contact and experience, to do with as you wish. The process of maturing is comprised of taking a constant inventory of these blocks. Some
we may discard over time, some we hold forever dear to us. We rearrange them to suit us, trying unconsciously to create a foundation that we are comfortable enough with to hand down to our children as their starting set. And so it goes.

A truer understanding of who you are may be obtainable through the understanding of the people who have handed down these blocks through generations to arrive at you as an end result. The odds against two random people out of all of humanity specifically meeting each other and having a child have to be about that of hitting the lottery several times in a row. But in every generation this happened several times in your personal history to make you who you are. If any of these seemingly random events was different or did not take place at all, chances are you would be very different. It is more likely that you would not be at all. You are actually a miracle of circumstances.

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