There’s No Time Like…Oh Tomorrow Will Do…
People procrastinate. It’s just a fact. I can be as guilty as the next person of putting off till tomorrow what would better be done today. Another incident yesterday with my son made me reflect on the whole GenForward Living Legacy genealogy project and what it really means so, for a change in one of my blogs, rather than share some funny life stories, I’d like to share with you a bit about GenForward as it sits today, what it will be in the future, and what really motivates us to get behind this project.
I was once again going through what has recently become, the saga of the Math’s homework. My son is not a fan of math. He’s not bad at it by any stretch of the imagination, he just doesn’t really like it. Moreover, he sees homework as a chore. Unfortunately, much as both my wife and I try to get the message home that in life it’s important to always give your best efforts in things you do, even if you don’t like them, it’s a bit of an uphill struggle.
Unfortunately he’s just a bit too young and lacking in life experiences for that message to really be relevant to him. To know that many people do a great many things in life because they have to be done, not because it’s the fun stuff they like doing. And that getting these things done right the first time, means that they are out of the way, and you can move on to the things you do like to do. It makes sense to him when it’s laid out in front of him, but doesn’t change his mindset for more than 5 minutes.
The reality of cause and effect seems not to register for him fully yet. As a result, he’ll drag out his homework way beyond what would be a reasonable time to do it in, and then present it to me for checking, riddled with the most ridiculous errors. Every time he’s asked to look again at something he’ll immediately see what the problem is, so I know it’s nothing to do with the work being beyond his ability (to be honest it scares me that he’s still doing work of the level that he’s getting homework for at his age).
He’s just not engaged and really doesn’t see the importance. Now I’m sure there are several factors at play here. He had always been taught math in a “Gifted and Talented” stream. It all sounds like a bunch of waffle to me, but my wife has friends who are teachers and they tell her that in the GT stream, the children are taught in a slightly different way, and that a number of kids just find it more engaging. Last year he moved schools, and despite being still in the GT stream, this school had no GT curriculum so they went about teaching more of the same stuff over and over again.
I think he got a bit bored, which I do understand, but it’s still not an excuse. In one year he dropped from the top 2% on the annual grading tests, down to just inside the top 10%. The school don’t care because he’s still in the top bracket, so that’s all fine for their numbers. He’s moving to middle school next year and they have a proper GT so maybe his interest will increase there again. We shall see.
I’m also sure his age is playing into things, he’s nearly 12 now and about to go into that wonderful time of life that runs from teenage years right the way through to, really about the late 20s, when you’re old enough to think you know it all, but still young enough to know nothing much really. At the same time you’re busy creating a sense of “self” which can lead to some over sensitiveness when other people suggest they may know better.
Now before everyone in that age bracket gets over sensitive and jumps up in arms, I’m generalising here, as one often needs to do when illustrating a point. I am of course aware that there are 20 somethings out there who have actually had a hell of a life, and as a result are world wise beyond their years, it’s just that’s the exception, not the rule. And to be fair, that’s not a bad thing. Life can throw some pretty tough lessons at you as you journey through it, and unlike at school life throws you the test first and then you learn the lesson afterwards.
This is one of the reasons that I got involved with the GenForward project. In a lifetime, you learn countless lessons, usually the hard way if you’re anything like as stubborn as I was as a youngster. The simple fact is, until you’re actually faced with a situation in life yourself, you can get all kinds of words of wisdom from your parents, but you don’t necessarily have the life experience to fully relate to their message.
This is why I take some time each day to work on building up my own knowledge repository for my boy. I know that there’s just no way on earth that he will be able to relate just yet to a lot of what I can teach him. I’m working (faster than I like to think) towards fifty years old now. I have a head full of knowledge that he almost certainly won’t be able to relate to until he’s much older. If he even wanted to come to me for advice when he was thirty for example, I’d be pushing eighty if not pushing up the daises instead.
Even if I was alive, who knows what kind place I’d be in mentally? I’ve seen first hand in my Grandmother, how a person’s memories can be taken apart piece by piece until they barely recognise their own children. I’d be no use to my boy if the same happened to me, and who’s to say it won’t?
Well, with me it doesn’t really matter, other than for my own personal interests. I’m not putting it off till tomorrow. I learned my lesson about 10 years ago when one sunny morning, and completely out of the blue, something as simple as a kidney stone nearly caused my death (my kidney backed up and was apparently about to pop by the time I got seen to).
Some people are more aware of the reality of their own mortality because of an incident like mine, or one of the other founders of GenForward, who had a similar out of the blue critical health issue, resulting in him being rushed into hospital, and given about a 5% change of making it through the night (he did thankfully but that served as his ‘wake up’ call to action). Or maybe you’re serving your country and putting your life at risk on a daily basis because of your belief in protecting others. Either way, ignorance is not bliss.
So I take a little time out every day to keep building my record for him on GenForward. I know that when he’s more interested in understanding the deeper life lessons than, “What toys did I play with when I was growing up”, the answers will be there for him, weather I am or not.
I will of course be urging him to take the same course and to make sure that he journal’s his life too, so that it doesn’t get forgotten, not just to him but to his own children. And if I am fortunate enough to meet my grandchildren, I’ll also know that when they grow up, instead of being just a vague shadow of a distant memory like my own grandfather is to me (I think I was maybe 5 or 6 when he died), they will know who I really was, what my values were, and what I learned about life while I lived it, because it’s all there in words and pictures for them online.
It really is a gift of immeasurable value, and with each successive generation of paying it forward, GenForward becomes a repository of the knowledge of every life in your family. Imagine, instead of looking for a birth or death record to try to build a family tree, you have generations of your family’s lives and accumulated wisdom laid out in front of you. You don’t just know they existed, you know who they were and what they stood for. You know where YOU really come from. How can you put a value on a gift like that?
But it’s like math homework, it needs to be done, not just talked about and procrastinated over. It’s not going to happen by itself. It needs the first link in the chain to take action. The GenForward genealogy project is brand new, so that first link is you. You are the keystone in the future history of your family, and today is the day to start, because unfortunately, tomorrow sometimes isn’t an option, and then it’s all too late apart from a great deal of regret.
The Genforward project is also more than just a website, it’s meant to be a living growing thing. More and more will be added to the site depending on what you, our users, tell us you need to make building your history for your children the easiest, and most rewarding experience it can be. We also intend to expand the project to become a “hub” for all things family, so as well as your family history and your own legacy, you will have access to a community with hundreds of lives worth of combined experience, to help you in a whatever way you may need.
So, go and create your free account, even if that’s all you do for today. We made GenForward free so that anyone and everyone could have access. Your records are kept private for your immediate family only, unless you specifically choose otherwise. We’ve done our bit and made a tool available so that anyone can start creating this wonderful gift for their family, now you need to do your bit.