It’s Mostly in the Genes

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “From the Top.” If you had the chance to be reborn, would you choose to return as your present self, or would opt for a fresh start? Tell us about what motivates your choice.

If you believe as I do that most of who we are is determined by luck and the rest by genetics, you’ll think this is a pretty dumb prompt. But, since most people DON’T believe that, here goes.

I was born in 1952 to a set of people who had grown up during the Great Depression and been young adults during WW II. Only recently have I understood how CLOSE WW II was in time to the years of my childhood and what a profound effect it had on the world in which I grew up. If I’d been born 20, 10 or even 5 years earlier chances are the trajectory of my life would have been different. 20 years earlier I’d have grown up in the Great Depression and gone to school during WW II. I’d have known rationing and fear and my dad would have been gone. If I’d grown up ten years earlier I’d have hit young adulthood at the point where employment opportunities were starting to open up in a big way. Five years earlier and I’d have been old enough to have experienced the counter-culture movement of the sixties.

All that is just related to the historical moment in which I was born.

Then there is genetics. I’m a “victim” of genetics. I’m 5’1″ just like my grandmother. I am short and roundish with white, white, white hair. Just like my grandmother. The palms of my hands have the same lines as my other grandmother. The backs of my hands look like my dad’s. My “bird” fingers are my mom’s (a sweet bit of genetic irony). My doc alleges that my arthritis is genetic. I have no idea. No one on my mom’s side had a problem with this, nor did my paternal grandmother and my paternal grandfather didn’t live long enough to find out. I’m myopic — as was my father and several relatives on my mom’s side. I have higher than average IQ. My brother’s was higher still. We didn’t buy those at the store. I was lucky to be born in a time when girls could go to university and into a moment when Feminism was pushing against the walls of the male dominated world of business — but, the other side of that, all those men coming back from WW II, now I think they needed meaningful work and to know they were the king of their castle. I also know that the world changed during the war from overwhelmingly agrarian to burgeoning industrial (in my part of the world — the American West).

Luck and genetics.

I’m lucky now to live in a world in which I can have my joints replaced. 100 years ago? By now I’d be completely chair bound. The ONE ancestor I know of who had arthritis was my maternal great-grandmother on my grandfather’s side. My grandparents met when my grandma — then a teenager — came to care for and help my great-grandmother. When the old lady died, my grandparents married.

Is it luck?

4 thoughts on “It’s Mostly in the Genes

  1. I was born a year before you and caught the tail end of the ’60s and the still rampant discrimination against women in mathematics in the ’70s. I would not want to be born into this world today, where people have become widgets for the corporatists to play with. I can’t believe being given a second chance would do anything for me or anyone else.

    Because my dad died when I was 9, I and my siblings always told our mother that whether it was “nature or nurture” it was all her fault. She claimed that we could lay a little of the blame on our late father, but we protested that we were not allowed to speak badly of the dead. I got most of my allergies from my dad, but my mother certainly contributed a few. The severity of my allergies was allegedly due to the fact that I wasn’t breast fed for the first 6 months of my life. The resaon I wasn’t was because at the time of my birth, my mother had a 1 year old and a 2 1/2 year old to handle as well as me They got breast fed, and had minimal allergies. I was not and got very sick.

    Both my parents died of cancer. My maternal grandfather probably died of cancer. My brother has cancer. That handwriting seems to be on the wall. Arthritis is a given, as is osteoporosis, and at 5′ 11″ I obviously have plenty of bone to deteriorate.

    What would be the point of starting over? To get a better shot at love? To get a better education? I think all of that is a crap shoot and I don’t count on luck. It hasn’t served me well.

    • I wasn’t breast fed because the fashion at the time was bottles. My brother had terrible allergies. It is a crap shoot. The one thing that might not be is how we deal with it. I hate to mention Kenny Rogers, but you have to know when to hold them etc.

  2. It’s fascinating to ponder over whose hands we have and whose nose, what likes and dislikes have affected us and our outlook on the world. I became so fascinated by it that it became the subject of my just published book, Any news from India?

    I used the background of time spent in India by relatives as the starting point for a story that prods the question of what makes us who we are, and why we wait until answers to questions are impossible before wanting to ask them.

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