I often wondered about my ancestry. I knew that my angular face and large eyes came from my father's Spanish ancestors. But what did they do for a living?
My father, who is very animated, would try to satisfy my curiosity by telling me funny anecdotes about his father and grandfather. His stories were often intriguing, but the information I wanted had to be more than anecdotal. So one day, I went to the library and searched through the annals of Spanish history.
I found a good book that thoroughly analyzed the relevant time period and amplified its analysis with charts and illustrations. In it, I discovered several interesting historical figures who shared my surname, Sierra.
One was an anarchist. He wrote books in which he expressed his belief that society in the rural areas should be allowed to exist without a government. He believed that the government was purposely creating a fear of anarchy merely to justify its first taxes on rural area farmers.
Another Sierra was a Doctor of anatomy. He was credited for inventing the first anesthetic. The anesthesia allowed him to operate on his patients without causing pain.
The most interesting Sierra was a former high-ranking official who worked in an ancillary department of the central Spanish government. He spent most of his life protecting the Spanish military's efforts to annihilate and annex smaller and weaker countries overseas. From the government's point of view, his protests were analogous to treason, and they sentenced him to a life of anguish in prison.
From this research, I was able to see many analogies between the characteristics of my ancestors and my own personality. It made me feel very proud to be a Sierra!