Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Decoding DNA

Subject: Grandma's Experiences Leave Epigenetic Mark on Your Genes |

We cannot escape our heritage. Or can we? Research (see link above) proves that we are inherently possessed by all that went before, unless we effectively countenance our impulses and habits and thereby change the very DNA sequencing that we in turn may pass on to our offspring. It is not just our parents who affect us, but indeed, our greatest great grandparents too. (Thing is, one hopes they were indeed great!) As such, these Epigenetic factors can be off-putting, or not. Like big words, the complexity chews hard. Broken down, the result is that we are the products not only of our own makeup, but that of our forefathers too. (Or might that be 'built up', not 'broken down'? No wonder psychologists delve into our family constellations, ha!)

Perhaps one ought to coin a new phrase for 'forefathers'; and yes, 'forbearers' will do; for our fore-bearers were both great grandparents and all our progenitors. That their genes influenced our own genes can be good, or not. (Any well-off Levi's in the family? ha!)

In the case of Beth and Lisa, it is good indeed. Grandmother and granddaughter, they both imbue a feminine grace, a lady-like comportment, a sharpness of wit, diction, and insight. They have an accord. They care deeply for others, are generous and thoughtful and considerate. They listen well. They both are long-suffering. They both clutch up their pains and share only to the trusted, and they do not smudge their lives with the private and inordinate trials of their passage, but rather sail with spiritual spinnakers unfolded in company, gloriously giving colour and vitality to the very air around them. And they both are indeed very beautiful. Strikingly so.

Yet when i was commissioned to do the painting from a 20+ year photograph her loving husband wrote:

"I just spoke with Lisa for the second time regarding Beth and how she may have influenced Lisa in her life. Lisa insists that Beth was of no immediate influence. Beth was a stay at home mother is what Lisa said. In no way does this remove from the deep love Lisa feels for her she insisted. So she is just her own person. She is self made."

Both women are highly artistic. Beth specializes in the most beautiful watercolours. Lisa spent a weekend doing oil-painting with me (and took to it like the proverbial petal unfolding to bloom.) And both women are gracious and self-effacing and humble and disaffecting. They glow with an inner light, Beth now in her early 90's, Lisa in her early 30's. And their love and care and respect for each other shines through. As does their interest in and warmth toward others.

Interesting how we do not see the mirrors around us. The friends we choose (or are chosen by); the things we like; the pastimes we pursue; the vocations into which we sink ourselves (or are buoyed by); these are the stuff that affects not only our own make-up but that get passed on in our genes to our children's children, and so on. We choose our mates and go on a lifetimes’ journey with them (or not) and are added to, detracted from, and shaped by the union. We are moulded by the choices we make, and that get made for us. Potential, like a seed in the garden, is somewhat dependent on the ministrations of time and circumstance and proximity to all the nurturing and generative propensities in ourselves, or not. Luck and accidents too play their part. And in the summation it is up to us to be the victim, or to be the o'erleaper, to be the survivor and the thriver and the achiever; we grow toward the light despite the shade of others, or we enfold and wither and sniffle and complain. Yet yes, we are indeed “self-made; our own person”.

But for Beth and Lisa, none of these debilitating factors held them back. They both can hold their heads high. They both can look back on a life well lived, and they both can be fulfilled in their love, and care, and inner coordination of their genes. Influence? Similarities? Quite a few!

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