I LOVE tuning into shows like the SBS documentary Who Do You Think You Are?
Or as we like to bogan-ise it in the Walker household, Who the **** Do You Think You Are?
Because we're tough. But not as tough as some of those ancestors.
It reminds us we all came from somewhere that we often don't suspect and we're all heading somewhere we probably can't imagine.
Hopefully not to hardship and heartache, as many on the show seem to discover.
They say it's all about enjoying the journey. But when it comes to family trees, there's often no destination, just stations along the way with names like "Homeless", "Upheaval", "Poverty Struck" and, every now and then, "Bloody Lucky".
Good times routinely turn rough through bad timing, bad habits and, in some cases, just plain bad luck.
The bottom falls out of the Industrial Revolution. Some student tops an Archduke in the Balkans. An Arab Spring rolls by. Pray you never live in interesting times, eh.
It all seems interesting from the vantage point of your lounge room a couple of hundred years later.
No doubt it wasn't so comfortable on the battlefields of the Somme, as actor David Wenham discovered about his grandfather.
The next generation he contemplated a fostered father circumspect about said decorated grandfather. You peer back and find the bombs kept dropping long after the stupid, pointless war ended.
Another woman, another man, paper trails, some salacious news report in a rag from the day that wouldn't raise an eyebrow in the age of AshleyMadison.com.
Times and standards changed, leaving Diver Dan to contemplate real "sea change" as the credits roll. Funny to think you may never have been the person you thought you were.
Sometimes you discover that you may well have been, as actor Geoffrey Rush did, tracing his ancestry back to the courts of Renaissance Europe where it turned out his gene pool was indeed artistic, like Geoff.
A long, proud line of musicians, in fact, for a number of generations. The golden years.
Then some rival noble laid siege to the castle of Geoffro's muso-relative's patron, as they used to do back in the day of Mozart.
Geoffrey's relative found himself back in the village on the outer from the local musician guilds . . . for 30 years. A long time between gigs when that time didn't include electricity, but did incorporate winter and malnutrition pending miserable death.
Who'd have thought eight generations later a descendant would be shining in a thing called cinema winning a statue called Oscar.
When it comes to the saga of life, we're all actors. Hopefully you get to play a good role. But there are no guarantees.
Sometimes the trail goes cold as earlier members of the tribe aren't so much keen to remember the past as eager not to hamstring the future. You just move on.
It's something we can all relate to because, in the end, big wheels keep on turning.
I did a story recently on the Howells family, who inhabit the Adamstown area.
There's quite a few of them but it seems they lost track of each other following World War I, which was pretty common.
Enter the inquisitive Peter Howells, who tracked down his grandfather, Private William Edgar Howells, who was in the 1st Pioneer Battalion from 1915 to 1918 and saw action in Palestine, Belgium and France.
Those exploits were profiled by the Herald on Anzac Day this year and suddenly a whole bunch of people in Adamstown realised they were related. They're holding a family reunion in September to get to know each other again.
Uncanny how you reconnect.
Every family has someone who likes to burrow into the past. My family did and, as a result, I believe my family tree slips back to Ireland on one side.
Seems my great, great, great, great so and so came out on a convict boat at the pleasure of His or Her Majesty (I'm not sure of the regal gender of the day) along with his eventual wife, who was similarly at the disposal of the state.
Both were employed by a settler type who apparently married the lady and had something like seven kids.
That settler then up and drowned.
The male relative then married that woman and had another brood of kids and so the story went.
Up the coast in geographical terms, and now back down again if you consider my branch. It's all a wee bit bewildering, but fascinating none the less.
I'm hoping I do something to make my descendants proud, but sitting here staring in the face of a looming company restructure I worry they may find a record of a Lambton man living under corrugated iron, working as an organ grinder. That is, if they have traceable records in the future.
Will it be possible to sift through Facebook and Twitter archives to piece it all together, lol?
You never know what's round the corner.
Everyone's got to make their way with Plans A, B, C and Gee, I hope this works out.
No doubt it will, but as shows like Who Do You Think You Are illustrate, it's often more a case of It's a ******* Miracle We Got Here at All.