The Zoey Blog: Apples, Trees, and Horseshit FINAL - COVER UNIVERSE EXPLORERS ORDER

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Apples, Trees, and Horseshit

I hear it all the time, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree." I hate it.  People aren't apples, and they fall where they fall.  Apples fall near the tree of their origin because they haven't a means of travel, haven't any significant hope of breaking free from their tether and landing anywhere more distant than a few feet away...that's called's physics.  People aren't necessarily defined by physics.

Your child is a criminal, but you are not.

Your son is gay, but you are not.

Your daughter has a significant learning disability, but you are wildly intelligent.

It isn't about apples falling from anything.  It's about people being conceived, born, and then developing with an astonishing number of influences, from the genetic level upwards to opportunity and random events.  It's something of a nature versus nurture discussion but waaaay more complicated.  We are not our parents, and our parents are not us.  We are unique individuals, influenced greatly by the people around us, but not shaped or carved entirely out of that same stone.

It's one of the most looming fallacies that I deal with every day.  Who these kids are, that I talk to every day, is as much of an important factor as what they are doing or have done. Who their parents are weighs only a little in the day to day interactions I have with them.  Instead, I focus on who they are...who they believe themselves to be...who they want to be.  It matters.  It's as much about identity as  origin.

I meet parents all the time that I would place directly in the equation of child + trouble, but like any equation it's important how you get the answer.  Sure, the answer is the ultimate end result, but trust me when I say that as a mathematical idiot I got the right answer using the wrong formula on a pretty regular basis.  Show your work, your teachers always tell you.  It's important.  Mathematics is as much about logical sequence as it is about final answers.  The same holds true for working your way through complicated social and emotional situations.  There are things to consider, and pathways to follow or explore, and although you can get an answer without knowing the proper equation, it might not be the right answer.  Beginning with giant assumptions is no way to start.

I always ask myself, "what if I'm wrong," because it's so easy to be.  I don't know this kid.  It might be nearly impossible for me to gather enough information to ever really know this person, but I can try.  I can make connections, and suss out important details, if they offer them.  What I can't do is pretend that I have a complete picture, or assume that what they've given me is truth.  It's too important.  This is their life unfolding before me, and who am I to interject with ego and bias?  The truth of the matter is that we are all so complex as to defy any kind of simple analysis.  Oh, we can use some degree of scientific method to extrapolate some very pertinent information, but we can't know all of the information, and it's all of the information that makes us who we are.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree is about as false a statement as you might find in a world always searching for the simplest definitions, and perpetually seeking simple explanations for complex equations.  People aren't apples, and whatever tree they fall from has much less to do with where they land than where they choose to land, where they just open their eyes and find themselves, or where luck and a decent breeze takes them.  Don't sink to simple definitions and wildly unfocused snapshots of the people all around you.  It makes us less than we can be, and denigrates all of us.  We're bigger than that.

We are what we are, and it very likely took a very confusing maze of a map to bring us to whatever place is here and now.  We are not our parents, or our circumstances, or other people's assessment.  We just are.  If you can accept and understand that, well, I think you've got a lot more to offer this world than most.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home