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To answer why psychology became the subject he wanted most to study …

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Steven Pinker has written this in NY Times Sunday Magazine:

The very fact that I had to think so hard brought home what scholars of autobiography and memoir have long recognized. None of us know what made us what we are, and when we have to say something, we make up a good story.

Steven Pinker
Image via Wikipedia

An obvious candidate for the real answer is that we are shaped by our genes in ways that none of us can directly know. Of course genes can’t pull the levers of our behavior directly. But they affect the wiring and workings of the brain, and the brain is the seat of our drives, temperaments and patterns of thought. Each of us is dealt a unique hand of tastes and aptitudes, like curiosity, ambition, empathy, a thirst for novelty or for security, a comfort level with the social or the mechanical or the abstract. Some opportunities we come across click with our constitutions and set us along a path in life.

Given the story of where I was born, Barcelona, Spain, and of how I got to live in Canada – my parents were born on Ile Madame next to Cape Breton Island – beginning in mid-July 1940, I have been messing around with the notion of writing the story of my “path in life” to this point.

I am 73some now and in 4 days I fly off to live and work in China, Dalian in Liaoning Province next to the Yellow Sea. So my “path in life” is going to take on a whole new orientation. And there is no doubt that I will blog post about the quirks and turns of that “path in life”.


Image via Wikipedia

So writing that memoir, whether it will be semi-fictional and how semi-, takes on a new life.

But it occurs to me that not the least important fact today is that I feel that I have reached a milestone as an “aspiring writer“. In the last week I have wakened, with the help of a continuing conversation about why I write, to the sense that I am now a learning writer and I won’t refer to being an “aspiring writer” any more.

I feel in my gut that that means I have given myself permission to write that memoir in a more deliberate way than I have been doing since I began messing around with it about 12 years ago.

Now I accept that I have to write my way into a way of telling that memoir story in way that compels my interest to write it and then get a sense of it’s value to me most of all, once I have finished the writing of it. If I can do that then I will have a better chance that my completed memoir will have some redeeming interest to my own children and grandchildren, who are the primary audience I am aiming at.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2009/01/10 at 05:52

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