It is a long held notion that we pass down not only physical traits like eye color and nose shape and handedness to our children, who then pass it down to theirs, and theirs and theirs (and the beat goes on)… but that we also pass on skills, behaviors, and sometimes some pretty complex knowledge.
It has been studied (in one study, mice trained to fear a certain smell passed this aversion onto their ‘grandchildren’).
It has been observed (the Monarch butterflies, who travel 2500 miles from Canada to Mexico – and a very specific spot in Mexico – and then return to Canada. The trip takes three generations of butterflies to do it… meaning no single butterfly has actually made the whole trip before, so there is no way for ‘anyone’ to remember the route).
And it has been sensed (the musician, mathematician, or artist… never having a single lesson… who stuns the world, at the age of 5).
The theory that we are all born as ‘blank slates’ has been challenged (and tested) for quite some time now… Jung’s ‘collective unconsciousness’. Andrzej Szyszko’s ideas on ‘genetic immortality’ from the 1960s. Rachel Yehuda’s research on epigenetic inheritance, based on a genetic study of anxiety traits in the children of Holocaust survivors. Plato’s view that our consciousness transcends bodies and lives.
Science or magical thinking, I suppose the jury will remain out on this for quite some time.
But I like this idea.
It feels right to me. Like I’ve seen it for myself, over and over again.
That we are not all born experiential zeros.
And yesterday, I liked this idea a lot.
When my youngest son – with his grandfather’s stubborn streak and contrarian tendencies and need to prove things (or disprove things) for himself, always – when he wrapped his grandmother in a post-graduation hug with those lanky long arms.
Old Yankee Man genes are tenacious buggers.
No avoiding them.
And, clearly, no denying them.
Kind of felt like Grampa showed up.
And, in a few ways… including, like, scientifically… I think he did.
And hugged Granny… from a couple of generations away.
Great having you there, Old Man.
And the beat goes on.
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