Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, July 24, 2017

What Shapes Us?

"Life is shaped by those that pass on their traits..." Is this true only of genetic influence and inheritance? Or can life also be shaped by those who pass on their traits by other means? Can life be shaped by books, songs, works of art, etc.? (This was the original meaning of "memes," by the way, before the internet hijacked and diluted the concept.)

The shaping of life is undeniably linked to genetic traits. The genes for being tall, naturally athletic, or blonde are all direct links to genetics and DNA.  However, influence and inheritance are equally as important and impactful. There are countless people that have been adopted around the world and have taken on the work ethics, cultures, habits, and outlooks of their adopted families. Traits can be passed on through personal or indirect relationships. The man or woman that works at Big Brothers/Big Sisters can pass on traits to their Little Brother/Sister by spending time and sharing experiences with them. There is a universal power in passing on traits through contact and relationships because energy is present and it can be shared and absorbed. This is the reason that young people are encouraged to watch the company they keep, because bad energy can permeate and influence decision making. Additionally, a trait can be passed on through indirect relationships with people that you never physically meet. I am a lifelong Prince fan, and it was by watching him and loving his music that I decided to pick up the guitar and learn to play. Life can be shaped through the music, songs, or various works of art that resonate within the individual human spirit. My mother tells a story on the link below of how I was singing Prince songs from the “Purple Rain” soundtrack at 3 years old. She explains how it had to be the songs that attracted me because she did not prompt me to sing I just picked it up on my own. It resonated with the individual human spirit. To this day I still listen to and love Prince as an artist and influence. If it had not been for my introduction to him, I do not know if I would have gone on to become a musician and songwriter. He is the direct link to a trait I would not have had otherwise.



  1. Musical and other cultural influences surely do shape life. The really intriguing question this raises is how culture and biology will converge to alter the pace of evolutionary change as we go forward. This is potentially a good thing, isn't it? We can come to think of our conversations, performances, and other cultural exchanges as formative of positive social change. We can contribute to the amelioration of life, not just wait for aeons of biological evolution to alter it.

    I've heard many people express similar thoughts specifically about Prince. He MUST have been a huge influence on many individuals and, hence, on the culture at large.

    1. Is it potentially a good thing? I'm not 100% sure because I don't see a lot of performers today that are dedicated to the arts and to positive messages. Now this could be the eternal struggle that we all face when we believe our generation is the last generation to do something great and the next generation is a bunch of lazy, degenerates. Additionally, my skepticism could be attributed to the fact that I don't SEE many new artists with great musical qualities, but this does not mean that they do not exist. It may simply mean that the mass media outlets are only displaying a select few, while the talented and outspoken are performing in local festivals and night clubs around the country. Out of the main spotlight. But I do hope that art is continued to be used in the future as a form of positive social change.

    2. I understand what you are talking about, Vega. As a blues fan, I found some really great blues artists that the mainstream media outlets shunned. One of the best electric blues performers I have ever seen was at a tiny little club in Naperville, IL that showed up on mic-night to show off his stuff. He was only 16 years old. I could tell it wouldn’t be too many more years until he could keep up with Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix.

  2. Vega,

    The innocence of music is no longer protected by the artist, but rather pimped by the profits of record labels. Yet, this might be indicitive of society as a whole. Music is about the journey and we live in a world that is more concerned with instant results and not the lessons learned from the journey.

  3. Anonymous10:05 PM CDT

    I believe that music and movies can both influence was and especially our youth whether it was intended or not. Personally I believe that subliminal messages and intentions have been introduced and the methods have been used and introduced into the public especially by artist.

  4. Vega,
    I believe that we are a sum total of all of our experiences. We are the person we are today because of how those experiences interacted with our genetic makeup. If you had been born in a remote part of China, you might never have heard of Prince, but your genetic structure would be the same. What if Darwin had been born in Nashville Tennessee in 1809, would he have written The Origin of Species, probably not, but genetically he would have been the same. I'm inclined to feel that nurture plays a greater role in a person's life than heredity. If you have children, will they be Prince fans too, or will they have their own musicians and artists to inspire them. What if we all had been born in 1809, how would we have been influenced by where we were born and who we interacted with?