Thursday, 15 April 2010

The year gravity took hold

Looking back at Dylan's life thus far, it seems as if we can sum up his life experience by the calamities that befell him during each of his years on this planet. The first year shaped up to be the year of the ears, with Dylan suffering from a chain of ear infections and grommet operations to address them. The second year was the year of the asthma (augmented by ear infections, too). And now we seem to have a worthy candidate for the calamity to dominate his third living year: gravity.
The record speaks for itself. During Easter Dylan stumbled on my shoes to fall on our bedside cabinet and earn himself a black eye. Yesterday Dylan tried taking his shoes off while sitting on a chair, lost his balance, fell off the chair, hit his head on the spare bedside cabinet that we placed in the kitchen because we didn't know what to do with it, and then hit it again on the floor. And today, in a moment of sightseeing, he forgot to keep hold of his bicycle's handlebar and fell off.
The result thus far is a Dylan that's shaken and a bit stirred. But also a Dylan that learns that he needs to be a bit more careful as he goes about: he knows now that running around the house could be dangerous given the tight confines; that you need to be careful when you're on a high position; and that you need to be very careful when riding a bike. There is, it seems, a benefit to the gravity related incidents he's been going through: he learns from them, and hopefully, with time, they would take place less frequently.
The trick, it seems, is in having accidents that hurt enough to teach you but don't hurt enough to really hurt you. Luckily, we have noticed that evolution seems to have humans designed to deal with moderate falls: it is quite impressive to see how well Dylan's skull can cope with managing to prevent serious damage from taking place, and - in particular - how well protected the eye is.
Still, as parents, we need to keep our eyes open for signs of danger. Learning is good, but I would have preferred it if Dylan would just listen to us for a change and avoid testing the earth's gravity for its consistency and power.

At this point I'll stray a bit and mention that this strategy of learning from milder experience does not only apply to babies learning how the world works. I can see the way it has worked on me in dealing with grown up stuff.
Take love, for example. I have had my share of broken hearts in the past, and at the time each of those incidents felt bad and recovery was hard. But I think I learned something from those incidents, things that helped me become more aware of what a good relationship is and how to maintain it. There is still a lot of room for improvement, of course, but in retrospect those moderate falls from days gone by ended up serving as the foundation for the way I act today. I wouldn't have been able to be the married parent I am without those broken hearts.
And what do I take out of this? That us, humans, are not as capable as we want to think we are when it comes to learning from others' experience. That is probably why we allow history to repeat itself again and again.


Sarah said...

I have often wondered why humans are good at being sympathetic but useless at the empathetic stuff. Unless it happens to you you can't really grasp how it feels or how to respond. Some people are better than others of course.

Going back to our road safety discussion I guess this is why those road ads are so graphic as the message don't drive drunk, tired or speeding just don't get through as you think it won't happen to you. And you can't fully realise the consequences as our brains aren't wired that way. So promoting personal responsibility isn't effective as a strategy so they go with shock tactics oh and pissing responsible people off!

Sarah said...

Can you believe a teacher started sentences of with And and So. Terrible language useage there!

Moshe Reuveni said...

The reason why we are the way we are is pretty obvious. There was never any evolutionary incentive for such adaptations.
Take the driving example. If we stand at the edge of a tall (say, 200m) ledge we feel scared, knowing that one slip and we're done. Yet when we drive at 100km/h, where it's also a case of one slip and we're done, we are comfortable enough to mess about with the mobile phone, poke our noses, and be generally indifferent to the situation. Why? Because there were never any conditions where humans traveled so fast before, but there were similar height conditions.
The point is that we can be aware of our shortcomings and consciously try to compensate. We can, but we hardly ever do so.
[The example was borrowed from someone, probably Dawkins or Sagan]

As for "and" and "so" at the start of a sentence:
You might have noticed yours truly does so quite often. While yours truly does not pretend to be a Shakespeare (while noting Shakespeare invented lots of new words), the little research I did on the subject came up with inputs saying there is no law against such things; it's inappropriate most of the time, but it is legal to do so on certain occasions where it fits the strategic intent.
Or something along those lines.