When I was eight, my Grandma gave me a family tree. She knew something I didn’t know at the time: I love genealogy. I would look at that pedigree chart and study the charts and sheets in my parents’ genealogy books and wonder, Who were these people? What are their stories?
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, family history is very important. We research our ancestors and do our best to document the lives of our families now. Growing up in the Church, a lot of my direct line had already been researched—or so I thought. A few years ago I started to look at online tools to find Danish ancestors and discovered individuals and families we didn’t know about before. When I look at these names on the family tree, I wonder who they were, what they did, how they lived their lives. Having been to Denmark, I know something about the places where they lived, so I see those place names and try to picture them in those places, going about their days—mothers caring for children, fathers providing for their families, unmarried sisters working as maids in larger households, and so on. (We won’t talk about family scandals.)
Is this the cause or a symptom of another one of my characteristics? I’m not sure. Most writers will tell you that they are people-watchers, and they would also tell you that they see the world and ask themselves, What if? It’s how we come up with so many of our stories. Perhaps this is why I have a hard time in large groups: I don’t just see a room full of people, I see a room full of stories and I want to know all about them. It can be overwhelming. Plus, people are uncomfortable when you approach them in a casual setting and say, “Let’s skip the small talk. What’s your life story?”
Years ago, I had an idea that I wanted to start a magazine filled with the stories of people from all walks of life. I feel that we can learn so much about the people and the world around us when we learn the stories of everyday people and the lives they lead. Hearing their stories can help us to develop empathy and compassion, to understand where they come from, what they hope for, and how they aren’t so different from us. The more I think about this, the more it feels like a project I am meant to pursue. Of course, I don’t plan to start a magazine, but I can use this blog as a platform to share these stories. My readers can use it to broaden their understanding of the people they associate with.
Are you willing to share your story with me? You may think, There’s nothing interesting about my life, but, remember, that’s from your perspective. Someone may read about your ordinary upbringing and see something extraordinary in it. I’m working to compile a list of questions to help me find the stories of others and I would love to tell your story. Leave a comment below or email moonriseonjupiter @ gmail dot com and we’ll share your story together.