In 1989 I began working on our family tree, working as I thought then, towards a destination. I conceived of sometime in the future when the work would be complete.
Yesterday, As I contemplated a generation of Revolutionary War soldiers in our tree (and the minutiae of details that each battle and action represent) 'complete' suddenly struck me as being singularly naive. By its very nature, genealogy is a never-ending vocation. That it should take me nearly a quarter of a century to consciously absorb that truth is a little embarrassing. Not the brightest bulb on the tree, hmm.
Sooner or later, everyone who contemplates doing their family tree, whether as a hobby or as a career, must confront the idea that with family research, the journey is the destination. For dealing with something that never ends, the destination cannot be the motive, the journey itself is the question and the answer.
Perhaps some people, observing the nature of the work, decide to find something else to do, something with an end to the beginning, a destination to attain. Yet not having a destination is not the same as not having goals.
In an endless journey, what is around the next bend in the road, what is just over the next hill, are pleasant goals, attainable and clear. What is beyond the distant mountain range? Not so clear, perhaps not even attainable, yet still a worthy goal, if only to see how close one may come.
Below is a section of our Revolutionary War generation - click to enlarge image.