Monday, February 23, 2009

The Hidden Links

You Never Really Notice, Until....

My wife has this thing she does. When she is in a very contemplative mood or has something on her mind that she is trying to think through, she takes a small pair of scissors and starts picking at the split ends in her hair. Looking at each strand and cutting off the ends of the hairs that are split. It is a sort of meditation.

This is not a big deal, if it weren't for the fact that she isn't the only one doing it. Her daughter does the exact same thing. This isn't something that is learned, I believe it is something genetic.

Most of the first half of our lives are taken up by learning things. Our senses have a powerful influence on us and we are constantly tasting, smelling, touching and hearing all sorts of stuff and then trying to process it. This learning process is so overpowering that it overshadows a lot of other things. Things that are easy to miss unless we pay close attention.

I never really thought about this until about 3 years ago. My fiance and I were visiting my parents in Tucson, Arizona. We were sitting on the back porch having lunch and chatting about something. Then, out of nowhere, my future wife starts laughing at me and pointing her finger.

"Like father, like son!" she chuckled.

I looked over at my father and he looked at me. It became apparent that we were both holding hour hands the same way, fingertips touching fingertips.

My mother laughed along with my fiance, "They always do that, it is a Johnson family trait."

In reality, it wasn't a joke, it is true. There are certain things that my father used to do, that I do as well. He never taught me how to do any of them, they are just stuck somewhere in the DNA. Passed on from one generation to the next. This is a sobering thing to learn when you are 48 years old. You start to wonder what else you do, that your father or mother have done all their lives, but you just don't realize it. Furthermore, what little DNA ticks have we passed on to our children.

I work in the foster care system of Arizona and I see many, many children that never know who their father's were, and often times rarely know their mothers either. I wonder if they will ever question what little things they do, a laugh, a raised eyebrow, a way of sneezing, that their parents did as well. They will never know, and often time we question and look for these links too late in life and they get lost in the rush to satisfy our senses, like tears in rain.