What If I Missed Out on Biological Determination?
I often wonder what I was “made for”. At this point in my life I have quite a long list in the negative. I know I wasn’t made for basketball, or surfing, or chess. I know I don’t have the temperament to be a programmer, the energy to be a doctor, or the concentration of a judge. But what was I made for? Could it be that my body type is shared by all of the champion calf ropers? Or that I have the disposition of a great elephant trainer? Maybe I could be the “Tiger Woods” of that lumberjack game where they run on logs spinning in the water but I WILL NEVER COME INTO MY OWN OUT OF IGNORANCE AND PAROCHIALISM.
It’s a haunting thought, isn’t it? But as I’ve misquoted before:
What song did the sirens sing to Odysseus, and what name did Achilles take when he hid among the women? These are questions the answers to which we shall never know, but they are not beyond the bounds of all conjecture.
Here Is my Conjecture
The Initial Analysis
Let’s start with the facts. My physical characteristics, omitting weight and poor grooming for the moment, are as follows:
- My feet are wide. Wide like small flippers, with remarkably high arches.
- My legs are short
- My torso is too long
- My skin is cheap
- My hair is oily.
When I say “my legs are short” I mean that my inseam is 29". Since my waist is 34", if you cut off my right leg at the pelvis and tried to make a belt out of it for me it would fall horribly short. When I say my torso is long it means that if I raise my hand my shirttails come out of my belt 100% of the time. If I want my shirt tails to stay tucked in I have to go through life like one of those female Irish step dancers that keep their arms glued to their sides. When I say that my hair is oily… well, you don’t need any description of that, do you?
Conclusion of the First Part
Through exhaustive research, I’ve discovered that this is the body of a coastal fisherman. I’d do well in a small boat plying oars, checking lobster pots, and setting nets with a bunch of brothers and cousins I am willing to work with but not talk to. The greasy hair puts me above the Tropic of Cancer. I’m not made to fish for grouper. More like fluke, flounder and scup.
As we all know, wherever you find coastal fishermen you find starving coastal fisherman. That’s because humans can’t stop themselves and will eat the population of a species down to the last member (see passenger pigeons). Wait, that’s not quite right. The last member we stuff and put in a museum, we eat up to the second or third to last member of a species (see passenger pigeons). Anyway, there are very few fish by the coast, and if there are fish by the coast it’s because the fishery collapsed and the fishermen moved away and now the fish are biding their time until once again someone discovers how “edible” they are.
So I don’t want to stop at “coastal fisherman” because that’s like finding out that you are “made to be” a Roman Centurion. Fat lot of good it does you. I want to find out what the best fit for me is in contemporary society. Let’s look at my other characteristics. Here is a checklist of some of my traits.
Conclusion of the Second Part
If you read the list I’m sure you come to the same conclusion that I have. I was born to work on a sealing ship. Yes, I have the body, disposition, and character traits to be a really good sealer. Now, you say, “Gutbloom, I thought you were looking for a contemporary occupation?” Well, it’s true, the great days of sealing may be behind us, but if sealing is ever going to come back you know that there is only one way to seal… and that is to walk out on the ice floes with a club and beat the sea pigs to death one by one.
Look at the evidence. Here is another silhouette of my body type, followed by one where I “added” some gear (sealing boots, some oilskins and a beard), and finally one where I even added a seal.
Now I know that doesn’t look like a seal in figure 3. Rub it in, why don’t you? I don’t know what a seal looks like because I’ve never had a chance to club a seal to death. I’ve never even gotten close to one. It’s like Michael Jordan being forced to play cricket his whole life. It’s like Jimi Hendrix being denied a guitar.
Worse, it’s like Manute Bol not wanting to play basketball, because the truth is that while I’d be willing to eat a sea pig or two, I have no great desire to head for the poles in search of pelts. Perhaps it’s better that I don’t fulfill the promise of my biological pre-disposition. Biology isn’t everything, you know.
[From the Archives: This article was originally published on Medium on August 7, 2015. I have scraped and republished it because I can’t figure out any other way to leverage the Medium backlist.]