Evolution has perhaps the largest role in shaping your personality. If there is something you cannot understand about a person, why someone would behave in such a manner, blame it on the genes. 4 out of 5, there will be few that will disagree.
It was not until a few years ago, much after I became a father, that I realized that I have inherited quite a bit. Prior to that, I always thought I was completely different from my parents. Now I know that I quite different, not completely. That eventually, I will realize that I am no different, I will leave to write about for another day!
Experiences, circumstances and influences play a role in shaping our approach to live. When I look back, I can think of a 3, maybe 4 experiences that have made me what I am today. Whether its 3 or 4, we will hopefully find out by the time I am done writing this post.
The first is my asthma. I developed asthma when I was about 11 years old. For a child that would rather stay outdoors all the time than indoors, this was quite the dramatic introduction to suffering. In those days, an attack had to be counter attacked using oral medicines, and when oral medicines failed, a steroid injection was the next resort. Then came the magic in the form of inhalers, and subsequently, thanks to some irresponsible doctors and loose regulations, I started to self medicate with oral steroids. Felt good. One night stays etched in my memory, a night at IIT Bombay, when I was in my room, living through an attack, and I could not tell whether I was awake or asleep. It was as though I was aware that I was sleeping, was struggling and while the best thing would have been to wake up, I just couldn’t get myself to snap out of my “sleep”. That night was not easy.
The second was the 4 years I spent with my grandparents before I went to college. In the days where giving and taking favors was rampant, and quite easily actually, my grandfather stood out. He once told me how he would get off one bus stop sooner so he would need to pay lesser. It was not how much he saved that mattered, it was how must more he had to pay for that short distance that he was not willing to accept (bus routes had stages comprising of say 8-10 stops, and the fare would change abruptly when the stage changed). This was perhaps my first introduction to “seek to know why you do what you do”. Is it “I don’t enjoy playing cricket” or “I don’t like playing cricket because I am not good at it”?
Life at IIT, and for a short while immediately after is perhaps the biggest influence in my life. It is then that I questioned everything, like most people would, except what came out at the other end was a very different me. I like the phrase “free thinker”, and I think I will stick to that. I think without the constraints imposed by external factors, especially by religion. My outlook to life had entirely changed, and if I had not come from a religious family, I would have ended up a monk.
There is a fourth, my 9 year old son. A present and ongoing influence that has helped me rediscover myself. So much so that it would not be out of line to say that I am like my son!