Growing up as a boy, I used to love going to see my grandparents. They lived in the City of Wangaratta, in the north east of Victoria. Back in the days when the Hume Highway between Melbourne and Sydney was not duplicated, we'd often leave in the evening and travel up at night, Dad driving, Mum in the front and me sandwiched between my two brothers in the middle of the back seat, straddling the hump. I hated that, but at least it helped me to try to stay awake so I could see the statues of Ned Kelly, at Glenrowan.
Fast forward, something like 40 years, and some things have changed; a couple of weeks ago we found ourselves travelling up a fully duplicated highway to visit my grandparents' graves. I was driving, my wife was in the front seat, my kids were sitting comfortably in the back. No one was sitting on the hump! The highway bypasses Glenrowan now, so Ned can't be seen, but the police are ever present with radar at the ready, pointed like guns at a different type of metal armour.
And some things don't change. As I went out for a run that evening, I decided I'd head to my grandparents' house at 16 Turner Street. It was evening and the smells of a warm, summer evening, complete with delicious smells of BBQ in the air, took me all the way back to my childhood. Smells are the strongest anchors, or triggers, of memories and my happy thoughts came flooding back. When I arrived, there the house stood, just as I remembered it, in the warmth of a Wangaratta twilight.
What I realised at that point was, I knew very little of my family history, of who I really was, of how I came to be here. I'd squandered opportunities (as we often do) when my grandparents were alive, to ask more questions, listen more, find out more. It suddenly became important for me to understand my past.
In years gone by, researching your family would have been a time consuming task, interviewing relatives, searching births, deaths and marriages etc. With changes in technology and the internet these days, researching your heritage can be as easy as signing up to Ancestry.com. And so I did. Within a week, I've traced my family back 5 generations. I've discovered Scottish, Irish and Maori heritage. We appear to be connected to ancestors who arrived on the Second Fleet, and my somewhat infamous Great, Great Grandfather, Nathaniel Bates, died of drowning having 'fallen' from a bridge, supposedly resulting in the now widespread phrase, "Did he fall, or was he pushed?"
OK so great, Cam, you've found out stuff about the past. So what?
If you read my last blog, you'll recall that change is constant and that I'm not that good at handling it! And really, this article also deals with change; from past (perhaps the things we're comfortable and familiar with), to the present (what we're doing now). But why is researching the past so important and what about its linkage not just to the present, but importantly to the future?
The past is definitely worth looking into. We cannot ignore it, nor should we dwell on it. It tells us how we got here, our background and importantly gives hints as to why we hold the values and beliefs that we do. Many have been formed and passed down through generations, perhaps modified as time goes by. This may help to explain why we behave the way we do now, and therefore importantly must help us to formulate how we want our future to look.
Here's something for you to consider: if my current set of beliefs don't work for me now, then how could I change them to create a better future. Importantly, as my trawling through Ancestry.com has also highlighted to me, that in the future, your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren etc. may look to find out about you. What will they read? What will you want them to read? What will your legacy be?
If you want to create history, you must plan for the future.
First, have a dream, whatever it is. Determine what you want, your legacy, no one else's - and deliberately and consciously set your internal GPS to steer towards it. Write it down, be tenacious, monitor your progress, adjust your course and keep the dream in sight.
Andy Dufresne achieved it. Ellis 'Red' Redding achieved it. I intend to achieve it.
So how are you intending to get busy living? Leave me a comment and start a conversation.
Go catch your dreams.