Day Four?: Aftermath

Woke up @ 5:15a this morning incredibly depressed, due in no small part to the massive migraine which caused the rising sun to split my head wide open exposing my brain matter to the open air.

This in turn led to a ritual genuflection at the feet of the Porcelain God.
As I lost my self in the religious ecstasy of mandatory prayer, I considered how I had come to this place. Both in a specific literal sense, and on a more ephemeral cosmic level. This just made my head hurt more, but being a sadist I tortured the poor soul already bent in obeisance to excretory demons and continued the thought.

My immediate situation was readily solvable. Unsupportive bed, over indulgence in wine, lack of appropriate hydration, and a genetic propensity for migraines.

Which led me to Part 2 §42.1(a)
[Sorry, still suffering aftershock from the bar exam].
My genetics, and with that my conditioning.
The whole Nature vs. Nurture debate started playing out in my head.

Surprisingly, like Occam’s Razor to a Gordian Knot – a voice whispered simply: Template.

Meaning thus:
Each of us is born into this world partially pre-determined. We are to a great extent limited by our genetic inheritance. Notwithstanding modifications due to modern science – If you are born with short genes you will be limited to life activities not requiring height, conversely if you are born with tall genes you will be excluded from most carnival rides.

However, while some characteristics of who we are are fixed at birth, the vast majority of characteristics pertinent to modern life are acquired through our programming as applied to our genetic template.

For example, let’s say you are born with heightened dexterity – you may be able to do a wide variety of things requiring heightened dexterity: Surgeon, laparoscopy operator, juggler, gem cutter, pickpocket, etc.

What you end up doing and who you are is largely programmed by your family, your culture, your geography, and your other genetic traits.

I’ll use myself as a specific example.

I was born with relatively tall genes (6’4″), a medium-large frame, naturally good eye-hand coordination, exceptionally strong calves and thighs, high proportion of fast-twitch muscle fiber with excellent recovery time. These genetic feature could have led me into any number of athletic pursuits Tennis, Baseball, Football, Cycling, Running, etc.

However, I was also born with Asthma. This in and of itself does not preclude those athletic pursuits. How the condition is managed and the attitude programmed toward it is what determines the likelihood of pursuing those endeavors.

In my case, I was treated by very good – but very cautious doctors. I had the support of a mother who had seen how bad my Asthma attacks were, and spent her time very concerned that I would over exert myself and collapse. Her fears were not unfounded, when I was a child there were other children in my area who had died because of severe Asthma attacks. This however led to my developing an attitude of fear and loathing regarding physical exertion in general and exercise specifically.

This alone may not have completely prevented me from engaging in “fun” physical or playground activities. However, my disdain for all things physical was enhanced by my father in two ways. My father is a highly educated and cerebral person who was nonetheless an avid sport participant when he was younger.

As I said he discouraged physical activity in two ways:
1) Many philosophical discussion about how the physical body is not important – this was a popular late 19th early 20th century protestant stoicism position. “The soul is all, the mind for interpretation, and the body for carrying around the other two”.  So I began to consider my body as a mere vessel for my brain.

2) As I said my father was an avid sports participant. He used to take me with him to his basketball games and what not – and make me sit on the side and watch. Talk about boring. There were a few instances he tried to engage with me in sports, but he grew quickly frustrated with my lack of coordination (gangly pre-teen) and lack of stamina (asthma) and did not encourage me to overcome these obstacles.

So disdain, grew to an active dislike and shunning of all things physical. It took me decades to even realize that my attitudes had been so skewed that I had taken to actively neglecting my body and health in general. This of course has led to my being a very large slug. If I take off my shirt I get calls of “Hey Jabba, where’s your hut?”, and If I’m at the beach, “Push it back in before it suffocates!”

Anyway, having effectively eliminated one branch of potential development with early programming. Which takes me from physical to mental.

I was fortunate (or cursed) to have been born relatively intelligent.
I say cursed because I am smart enough to know what I don’t know, but not smart enough to learn it. For example, I found my upper limitation for mathematics at Calculus.

Maybe if I had a better or more engaging teacher I could have learned it, but this was the first time I couldn’t teach myself the subject. Fortunately (at the time back in the dark ages) it wasn’t required for my degree – so I never bothered to retake it. I often wish I had.

I managed to get through a computer systems engineering degree and through law school. Again though, not the sharpest tack. I may achieve competent or even clever, but “brilliant”? Unlikely.

The point being (given the divergence of computer systems engineering and law) I could have chosen to pursue a vast range of other careers:medicine, teaching, accounting, sales, technical work, etc. I could also have become a master mechanic, carpenter, or other skilled tradesman.

It all came down to programming. The encouragement and attitudes I absorbed from my family, my culture, my geography. What skills were praised? What professions were revered? What educational resources were available?

And in the Aftermath of the Bar Exam, what’s next?
I know where I’ve been, but where am I going?

Where have you been, and where are YOU going?

Posted on 2009-07-31, in Personal Ruminations and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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