What my Cold taught me about [my] Gods
Unfortunately, I have not been able to spend 10 hours in the library every day for the past 3 days as I’ve been suffering from a cold and bedridden in my dorm room – ordering in food and self-isolating from my friends on the off-chance that I have the Canon-19. It’s nothing serious and I’m taking the important precautions. But oh, how the Cambridge libraries call for my return. Hopefully it will be swift. But here is a blog post in the meanwhile.
Palmar grasp reflex refers to the primitive instinct found in infant humans and most primates. It refers to when we reflexively grasp onto objects in our hands – we naturally flex our fingers to hold on, holding on to life, for hope someone is there to take care of us.
For those fortunate enough to have parents be present in their childhood, you know what it feels like to be sick as a kid: your mother tucks you in, feeds you some medicine you can’t even pronounce the names of, and nurses you back to health. I distinctly remember my mother feeding me this steaming hot ginger chicken soup, an old Chinese traditional remedy, that made me sweat away the poisons of the illness. At the very least, it acted as a placebo, and I drank away expecting it to cure me.
As a child, anytime we ran into troubles, from a small (or large) scrape on the knee from playing on the playground, to doing your math homework, and yes, when you get a cold, we would naturally go to our parents. They would know what to do.
If you grew up in a non-religious household (and maybe even in a religious household), you might share the same unconscious realization as a kid: our parents are Gods.
Somehow, someway, my mother would solve any problem that I didn’t know how to solve nor had the experience yet to tackle. She knew more than me. She was bigger, stronger, smarter, and wiser. She knew how to make ginger soup! She was unstoppable.
I had a natural, and unconscious, dependency. It was ingrained in my mind to call my mother in dire situations. I have vivid memories practicing reciting her phone number, 604-xxx-xxxx like a little song, dating back to when I was 5.
Then university came along. Suddenly I went from seeing my mother every day to the occasional text. I had to be reminded of this drastic lifestyle shift again last month when I returned to my studies, after being home for over a year due to the panorama.
However, although the persona you created that your parents can do anything is an unconscious manifestation, eventually, you have to consciously come to the realization that your parents are not Gods, and that they do not have the answer nor guidance for every path you want to take. If I wanted to go to school in the states, I had to do my own research, self-study for the SAT and AP exams, following in the footsteps of others I’ve seen. A career in law, academia, finance? Or perhaps traveling the world, to countries and cities they’ve never even heard of? Thankfully we have Google, but still, these are daunting, individual ventures.
The realization that my mother doesn’t have the answer to everything is a sudden disappointment, but a necessary one to forge my own path where the onus lies on me.
Certainly, there were times I was internally frustrated with my parents for not having the answers I so desperately wanted from them to help guide me in my high school studies, to university life, to my chronic health issues. But I think I’ve largely come to terms with them, or at the very least, I’m aware of their origin and irrationality. The struggles and frustrations and uncertainties of my life are vastly different from that of my mother’s, and although I can always depend on her to support me with love. So maybe my mother can’t teach me how to play Scar in the Lion King, but she may have other experiences or stories I can learn from. She isn’t a God who knows how to solve all my problems. I don’t believe in Gods.
My mother is not a God – she’s much cooler, because she can make chicken ginger soup.
Like most of my blog posts, this one is inspired by my studies in philosophy, and particularly of a podcast by Stephen West “Philosophize This” on Kant, Episode 7.