It’s in the Eyes

#FPQ: What do you believe, when it comes to people’s traits and personalities? Are they primarily formed and shaped by nature or by nurture, as defined above? What about your personality? Nature or nurture?

The bathroom window takes up all of one wall. It’s huge. Faces west. The afternoon sun makes the space as bright as an operating room. I like that. No mould.

The other day, I went in to dust and wipe and tidy. The doors to the mirror shone to a smear-free finish. The best time to do it is in the afternoon when the sun highlights all the marks and smudges.

I looked up, and …

My father’s eyes looked back at me.

It’s the first time I’ve ever seen the direct relationship between the two of us. We don’t look alike in any other way. Different hair, body shape, facial structure, ears, hands, feet.

But the eyes — I have his eyes. And he had his mother’s eyes. I loved her eyes. She died too young. 50.

I stared at her eyes, at his eyes, at my eyes.

The mirror stared back at me with my father’s history. I couldn’t look away. My chest burned with the need to speak to him, to tell him things we didn’t talk about when he was still here.

He died too young. 47.

When I reached that age, I had a panic year — what if I die before I’m finished? Needless to say, I didn’t die. Nor at 50. And now I’ve given away a fact about my life. We’ll ignore that, shall we?

And the nature/nurture thing?

If he’d been around longer, would I be a different person to the one I am today?

I don’t think so. I am not like my mother, even though I may look like her. Do I hate that I look like her? Yes. We do not see eye-to-eye, and never have.

My father had his issues, but am I like him in attitude?

No. Yes. He was a man who observed all the little things around him. He noticed the world. Spoke to people, enjoyed being with kids and playing childish games with them. He thrived on interaction with peers and friends and even the occasional competitor.

Am I like that?

Yes, but he was gone long before those things shaped themselves in me.

Am I like my mother?

In every way but looks, I am not like my mother. It has been a difficult road to disentangle myself from her threads in the weave of life, but I chose that road. I chose to be as unlike her as I can be. Looks are one thing, choices are another.

We are the decisions we make.

DNA is only one small part of our make-up. And I see my father in myself. It makes me proud to have him in my bloodline. Whether that DNA created his nature and passed along some of it to me seems irrelevant.

It is irrelevant.

If I look up my maternal grandmother, I find the same characteristics. And she was a writer. All writers are observers, watchers of the world.

It’s not DNA, not how we live as children, but how we choose to decide our fate/path. There is no other person responsible for my traits, or my weird personality. I am unique, a blending of bloodlines and histories I will never know about, and don’t care. I made choices, good and bad, and they’re all mine.

I am. And that’s enough.

33 thoughts on “It’s in the Eyes

  1. Cage I enjoyed your essay. I believe we should own our choices. I also believe that for some of us it takes a while to understand we have choices. We still have to own those things we did before we realized we had them, but for me there’s an acknowledgement that I did the best I could with what I had (development-wise) at the time.

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    • Some of my choices were not the right choices if I look back now, but it was the best option at the time. Each of those choices led to another, and what I learned from all the previous choices went into what formed the next one.
      It’s the same idea I shared with the fosters – to not be bound by the previous, only to take on board what we’d learned from it.
      And even if I pretend to be better than I feel, it’s for a purpose that leads to another choice, and only after the consequences are in play will I be able to judge whether that’s a good ‘un or a not-so-good-un. But I will go on, making both good and not-so-good choices, because they are mine. My choice is to learn from each one so the next one will have the value of experience to add to the mix.

      In other words, we do the best we can with what we have in that moment, and go on.

      The path is never clear until the end is reached, and anyone who says there is only one way to walk the path is the person at a standstill, or caught in the brambles of regret.

      Anyway, I think I’m saying I understand. Or I’m trying to keep going with a level of understanding that maintains some flexibility in each choice … that I make at this stage of my life.

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  4. Nature gives us our potential, nurture determines what we do with it. That said, never underestimate the first five years of life. We soak up information by a kind of osmosis, from every source, without being aware of or critical of, the things we are learning. I remember being very outgoing as a young child, talking to people on trains, singing at the top of my voice, being exuberant. But I was taught to be fearful, and no matter how hard I try, that wariness will never leave me. We can always make choices, but we can only reshape ourselves so far.

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    • I think we can go far, but only if we recognise what we want/need to change at an early stage. Most of my fosters were teenagers, and I think they were young enough to make huge changes, not only in how they saw themselves, but how they saw what influenced their early uptake of attitudes.
      Of course, at my age, I can be as cranky as I like because I’ve earned it, dang it all!

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