taking the trouble

“The Haymaker” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
“The Haymaker” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Acknowledging our roots changes us. It makes us feel truer. Many people are interested in their family history, an interest that comes from the fear of not having roots, of standing on emptiness. But even more important than investigating our ancestry is rediscovering the connections with those who have crossed our path.

… In that moment, I understood the importance of preserving the past. What a gaping lack of respect it is to carry on with our lives, ignoring what people who lived before us said and did, how they suffered, what they created, and even how they ate. And those who take the trouble to preserve the most creative and beautiful heritage that our predecessors left us are performing an act of kindness.

~ Piero Ferrucci
(The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life)

12 thoughts on “taking the trouble”

  1. Barbara, you have got to know how I feel about this…I couldn’t agree more! My comment could end up going on to book length, as I’m so passionate about family history, so I will keep it short. It is yet again a beautiful painting, matching the words to perfection. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Joanne! I do know how passionate you are about family history and I’ve been enjoying seeing yours take form and blossom on your website! Since May I’ve been doing much more internet research than usual, which has been wonderful on the days when it has been too hot and humid to enjoy being outdoors. My head is spinning trying to decide where and when I want to go next in person to look for documents, headstones and old houses… In the fall, of course! 🙂

    1. And because the name of the painting is “The Haymaker” I kind of imagined the woman taking a break in the shade and gazing out over the hayfield, contemplating the work she has already done or is getting ready to do.

  2. Brilliant quote.
    I’ve been researching my family’s roots for about 25 years and while I’ve been looking for names and dates, I really want to know who we were. Were we townspeople or country folk, what kind of work did we do and what did we eat? Perhaps as Piero Ferrucci says, it comes from my feelings of not belonging because my family has emigrated every generation for 150 years.

    1. I feel the same way, Rosie – it’s the stories we dig up that are far more compelling than a pedigree full of names and dates. Sometimes I think what got me curious about my ancestors was wondering why my father’s family was so loud and rough around the edges, while my mother’s family was so warmly polite and quiet. Ukrainian peasants newly immigrated vs. old New Englanders, here for hundreds of years.

      You might appreciate this quote since your family has moved around a lot. I may use it in a post one day if I find a good picture to go with it, but your comment made me think of it now…

      “Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil. My children have had other birthplaces, and, so far as their fortunes may be within my control, shall strike their roots into unaccustomed earth.”
      ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Custom House)

    1. It’s a wonderful book, Sheryl – it highlights how essential kindness and compassion are to flourishing in our day and age and illustrates many ways we can show kindness – ways that we might not have thought of before. If you lived next door I’d run right over to lend you my copy!

      I love and admire your blog because of the kindness you show by taking the trouble to preserve and share with us your grandmother’s story, giving us a taste of what her life was like with all the extra research you do. Well done!

  3. Hi Barbara. I know so little about the people in my past… I only know bits and pieces about my four great-grandmothers… to think of the equivalent, it means that someday, my son’s son will know next to nothing about my mother… it seems impossible. Jane

    1. Perhaps this is why genealogy is such a popular hobby today, although some of us look at it as something more than a hobby. When I was younger and went to a family history convention I was surprised that almost everyone there was old enough to be retired. Perhaps the urge to preserve a meaningful record of our ancestors’ lives doesn’t bite most people as early in life as it bit me! 🙂

  4. Hmmm, was sure I commented before. Looked at this and pondered before, anyway. The woman raking/working started me thinking about generations of people who split wood. Not with modern wood-splitters, but with axes and mauls. What hard workers they would have been–just to survive. We have it much easier today.

    1. We certainly do have it easier, don’t we? In almost every way, but especially physically. I can see why splitting wood is on your mind – I have no doubt you’ve been working every bit as hard as many of your ancestors did. I also have a feeling they are very proud of your efforts to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Who knows what kind of adaptations and changes we will all need to make as Mother Nature continues to react with displeasure over our current wasteful way of living? As “they” say, a little hard work never killed anyone, but our couch potato ways probably are shortening our lives.

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