Wednesday, September 22, 2004
I yam what I yam
It took, oh, about 30 years to figure this out, but I have to admit, it's been liberating. Two things just happened this week that made me think of it, and I want to write it down so I can be reminded of it later if I need to. It is just this: I am who I am, so why fight it? Seems rather trite, I know, but it's so freeing to just admit it to yourself. No more fretting about trying to change yourself for the better, no more jealousy of people who do things and go places and know stuff you've never even cared about. Just acceptance. It's yummy. I've borrowed my outlook on life from Popeye. Go figure.
So, the two things that happened are these:
1) In class yesterday, we talked about "revealed preference", and how it relates to ecology, specifically foraging behavior. Animals tell you how they rank food sources just by their behavior. It is the same with people, although we like to delude ourselves into thinking our real preferences are different from our revealed ones. Do I like going to plays? Yes, of course I do, being an educated and literary urban woman in a city bursting with excellent theater. When's the last time I went to a play? Well... No counting Blue Man Group, the last play I recall going to was a comedic Hamlet, and I think we still lived downtown when we saw that. Clearly I don't like the theater as much as I say I do, or I'd work a little harder at actually going once in a while. Apparently, I prefer reading, watching TV, and mucking around on the computer. Sad but true.
Why this is relevant right now: I'm really just not into big chunks of the field of ecology. Seed dispersal - yawn. Foraging - whatever. Competition - don't care. Am I therefore not an ecologist? No. Am I a bad ecologist? No. Should I fret about it? NO. My battles will choose themselves for me. I will read an abstract about pollinator-flower coevolution and it will tug at my brain in a tantalizing way. I just need to be aware of the tugs.
2) Much less worldview-shaping but equally revealing: I read a mention of an author who writes highly-recommended books, so I took a peek at a review. The reviewer mentioned that this author writes things set in India, and my interest promptly vanished. Then I felt ashamed of being closed-minded, unwilling to try out some great books and maybe learn something about the world. After that, defiance kicked in. So what if I don't like Indian, Japanese, and various other cultures or histories? It's not my job to try to like and understand everything on the planet. I like enough. I don't have the time or energy to be completely cosmopolitan. I am who I am, and I should be happy with that.