Personality, seeds, and perception

I’ve looked at, drooled over, inhaled, and yes, eaten enough cinnamon rolls and sticky buns to last about a week or so forever. My self-indulgence in the foodblog world this past weekend was well worth it. Food makes my world go ’round, which means I’m ready to go on this first Monday in October. No, I’m not going to talk about the US Supreme Court or what they have on their docket. At least, not today. But I have been waiting to talk about James Watson who just may be a new hero of mine. You don’t know who James Watson is? Or is it that perhaps you just aren’t interested in who my heroes are? No matter, because it’s inevitable that I’ll explain it all anyway.

Sven Geier DNA FractalDNA Fractal courtesy of Sven Geier

Dr. Watson (no relation to Sherlock) was interviewed by a staff member of our local paper recently, and as much as interviews are something I don’t relish reading unless I’m extremely interested in the person being interviewed, Dr. Watson caught my attention to the extent that I may need to consider purchasing his new book, Avoid Boring People: Lessons From a Life in Science. I do know that part of the credit for his responses, which have had me thinking about them days later, goes to the writer. If you don’t ask a good question, you won’t get a good answer, right?

The reason Dr. Watson’s responses appeal to me is because he just “lays it on the table:” it’s brevity at its best and something that I’m a complete stranger to. His obvious knowledge about DNA provides for interesting opinions about genome sequencing, such as, “if you know somebody’s behavior is linked to their genes, you’re less likely to get angry, and more likely to help.” I’ve had some time to think about that — especially when I consider all the children with whom I’ve worked — including my own.

But how much do I know about whether an adult who is less than tolerable in public is simply rude, enjoys drawing negative attention to him or herself, is under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, or has a personality disorder? I may have less than pleasant thoughts about the person, but unless I’m being confronted, or feel threatened, I’ll observe, not engage. Life is just too unpredictable now. And if confronted, my reaction would be one more of embarrassment over attention being drawn to myself. Or fear. Understanding wouldn’t come close to factoring into my reaction in that scenario. Fight or flight? Yes.

With respect to the question of nature or nurture, Dr. Watson believes that our “personality is [our] genes. And [our]personality is key.” But…(and you know what point I’m going to make, don’t you?) …in much the same way that a seed is nurtured by a series of factors that influence its growth and viability, humans and animals can also thrive, or suffer from factors in their environment.

Yes, the personality is the seed, but we are so heavily influenced by those around us. By their ideas, opinions, attitudes, mannerisms, passions…or the lack. It seems to me that influence can be like unwanted hurricane force winds, relentlessly pushing and at times, violent. At other times, like a day without even the hint of a breeze. The response to either of those situations will depend on the one who is affected.


That is what is key. We are often treated as being the same: women, men, children, students, workers — not individuals. We are too often packaged to make it easier for someone else to deal with us. That’s where all the problems begin, because people forget that it isn’t always about themselves: their anger, their frustration, their disappointment, their preference. What about the person on the other end of it all? If you’re a parent, it’s about your children. If you’re a teacher, it’s about your students. And if you’re a worker, it’s about your work, or your customers. It’s. Not. About. You.

Well, unless you have a personal blog. Then it’s always about you. It’s your information — often synthesized from myriad sources — about what you’re interested in, about what matters. To. You. Yours. Does that mean it is or isn’t a reflection of your personality?

I recently had an acquaintance tell me that she doesn’t read my blog because it isn’t “really me.” Perception is an odd thing, isn’t it?

Sorry. Odd flow of thoughts today. Welcome to my personality. The one I have to put up with.

So if you’re completely bored now, and want to understand more than you already may what a big nerd I am, then play the game at Nobel Prize. It says I “managed to get 281 points out of 1150.” Whatever. If you’re really bored, you can try out some of the other games they list. I think I fed Pavlov’s dog to death, unfortunately. Overfeeding is my solution to everything in life. Poor dog.

I guess there aren’t any scientists amongst my ancestors or more recent relatives.

Dreamers, yes. And swingers of birches.

Well, except short hair scientists.

That would be me.





8 responses to “Personality, seeds, and perception”

  1. Hey there!

    I read this post and the comment your acquaintance made about your blog not being “really you.” Interesting…When I read a person’s blog I may wonder if what I’m reading is fact or fiction, but that doesn’t make or break my experience. If it makes for a compelling read, what is the difference?

    On my own blog, for instance, it is stated right up front that I want my blog to be a reflection of my thoughts, experiences and opinions. I use my blog as a sounding board for things I want to say. I’ve had people tell me that they are surprised at how bold my blog is, because I am so laid back in person. My response is that there is more of me in my blog than in me.

    A writer’s personality is nearly always present in her writing, whether it be autobiographical or fantasy, so I would argue with your acquaintance that whatever you write is reflecting the “real you.”

    And thanks for writing, because I do enjoy reading your posts, whether it be the “real you” or not.

  2. Gina, Thanks very much for taking the time to comment about this. I appreciate your feedback. And I will emphatically say that this blog is me. What I write about is what I think and what I feel, what I believe and know to be true. It’s very much influenced by changes in emotions, or by the effect that a day and its events has on me. I never really know what will come out, even though I want to write about a particular topic.

    Now that I’ve had my blog for a whole six months, it occurs to me that I probably need to make some adjustments. Although I do have a “Who, Me?” page that gives a whirlwind tour of me, I don’t believe I actually have a place where I qualify this blog like you’ve done with yours. That might be a good idea for me as well.

    As far as my acquaintance goes, part of the difficulty is that we’ve not known each other long (in the grander scheme of things) and so her perception of who “I am” must be completely different than what she has seen.

    Everything’s food for thought…

  3. Funny you should mention this. Similar trains of thought have been chugging along a few neural pathways in my skull.

    Wait. I just reread the post and no, I’ve not been thinking along these lines. A couple tiny fragments maybe, but not the depth and breadth posted here.

    But now I want to.

    And for what it’s worth, I have a hard time imagining someone writing as you do here and the result be anything except real. Might be a subset of the whole, but even so, that’s not a bad thing. It’s a weblog, not an exhaustive autobiography. Right?


  4. Also, from the swingers of birches link (thanks for that), just above the “title” it says:
    Robert Frost. 1875–

    So he’s, what? A hundred and twenty seven now?

  5. Hey RJ…How astute of you to notice…but I’m not surprised. And maybe that birch swinging helped him. Who knows. The key to immortality?

  6. Did I leave an invisible comment on this post before the Frost-y one, or spam filter ate it, or… ? Maybe it’s all a false memory on my part.

  7. Hey RJ — I usually look at my spam fairly carefully, and unless you’re selling cars, sessions with hot slave babes, or need strategically placed implants, I’m sure you wouldn’t have been deleted. My site usually recognizes people who’ve commented here. Now my curiosity is piqued…

  8. Okay, RJ — just found the comment you were speaking of in the spam box. I wonder what took it so long to get there and whether it had a nice journey. Funny how it’s queued right where it would’ve been.

    And yes, it does make me think about “being real.” I’m not wired to be anything else, and do believe I mention that fairly regularly…

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