My DNA reveals things about me I once thought were somewhat-private. Now, anyone with access to certain data in the records of can know my DNA suggests: I like the taste of cilantro, I tend to remember my dreams, I am introverted, I am midway between risk-tolerant and risk-averse, that I have dark eyes. But the same data say I am a “night person” and my hair is dark; in fact, I have never been a night person and I had dishwater-blond hair before most of it turned grey. The lesson, I suppose, is that a genetic predisposition to a specific trait does not assure the expression of that trait. Perhaps, though, the fact that a predisposition remains dormant at any given point in one’s life does not guarantee it will remain dormant. I may yet become a “night person,” though the very thought disturbs me—I would hate to replace my early-morning solitude with late-night unknowns. I paid $10 to gain access to those DNA revelations, proving either that I am curious about what my DNA reveals about me or I am ego-driven—or, perhaps, both.

Other people could have different motives to pay the fee for access to their genetic information. Maybe a person is anxious to assuage his concerns that his DNA might reveal a propensity to commit murder. That “trait” has not yet been associated with a genetic marker—but that is not to say that it will not. And who is to say whether the interpretation or application of data about the so-called genetic markers is valid or reliable? I have not bothered to explore the validity or reliability of my information, but I am writing about it as if it were believable merely because it came from a well-known website. Oh, there could be a million motives for paying for access. And a million misinterpretations. And a million resulting missteps or mistakes.


There was a time no so long ago that I would harshly judge a man who kept his hat or cap on after entering any building. A little later, I reserved my condemnation for people who failed to remove their headgear only upon entry to certain buildings, like public libraries or churches. This morning, as I mull over the protocols for when to wear and when to remove head coverings, the existence of such rules or guidelines seems utterly absurd. Why does society feel compelled to dictate what is or is not proper about wearing a hat and when it must be removed. Yet we create and implement silly rules. And we inflict punishment—usually in the form of disapproving looks—on people who opt to ignore them.

Indefensible! We have no right to embarrass or otherwise punish people who flout the protocol for wearing headgear!

How far does that dismissive attitude go? Should we be similarly flexible about the protocol that requires coat and tie in certain upscale restaurants? Or the social requirement that we wear suitable clothing or, at a bare minimum, cover our genitalia? It seems this matter is another one that moves freely (or almost so) along the continuum of what we sometimes call “proper decorum.”

Despite my mockery, I suppose protocol or ritual or whatever you choose to call it may have a legitimate place in society. It sets limits that can be understood—if not supported—by everyone. It provides a recognizable anchor in times of chaos or confusion. And it may differentiate segments of society from one another, thereby helping to cement bonds between those who share certain attributes. Like skin color, unfortunately. Everything has markers that either bind us together or tear us apart.


I have a small butt. It does not do its job of holding up my pants, so I must rely on a belt or suspenders or other such device created to prevent the social faux pas of letting one’s pants fall down. A larger butt, one more distinctly double-half-melon-shaped, probably would prevent that from happening. My shape is dictated, in large part, by my genes. I wonder why the exposé of my traits did not call attention to that physical flaw?


As I sat here at my desk, upright, in a daze approaching sleep, I was jarred awake/alert by a loud “thump” against a window in front of me and to the left. I suspect it was a bird striking the window. But it’s still dark outside. Do birds awaken and fly around at this early hour? When the approaching dawn begins to flush darkness from the sky, I see and hear birds. But this early? In near total darkness?

Hmmm. It may not have been a bird. It could have been a raccoon, its paw balled into a fist, punching at the glass. Or a clumsy squirrel.

I cannot stay fully awake. It is 6:30. I have been up for more than two hours. I think I need more sleep. But I need more coffee, as well. I have a medical appointment at 8:45, so I will stay up; I just need to shower and shave and have breakfast and finish blogging. Not necessarily in that order.


I inherited a significant number of traits and attributes. One of them seems to be a reluctance to call events to an end. But I must do that with this post. The End.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to Inheritance

  1. Gabriel Chua says:

    Thank you for sharing. Exactly what I needed

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