There is a grandeur in this view of life...while this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a begining endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved
Charles Darwin

Chronicling The Legend Of Jackson Wood: Year One


Precociously “taking the initiative”, JW arrived early, and continues to engage. Like all legends, there are surreal shadowy myths weaved into the perfunctory, blurring veracity—and, as Dave, my son in-law has counseled, truth shouldn’t obstruct a good story; and so, the saga of JW begins.

There is a hint of a parallel with Rudyard Kipling’s character Mowgli in the short story Rukh, which JW personifies. For those who are not familiar with the moral laden anthropomorphize Jungle Book of Kipling, where a child is lost, orphaned to  the Indian jungle during a tiger attack, and, fortuitously a wolf, Father Wolf, happens on the bedraggled, trepid man-cub and corralled him back to the den to be nurtured by mother, Raksha (protector) wolf. Father Wolf promptly and aptly assigned the moniker Mowgli, which translate to frog, because he was furless and in an incessant kinetic. Let me be unequivocally and litigiously clear, JW was not lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains; however, he has as his constant companion two dogs: a Golden retriever, Gatsby and a Labrador retriever, Lucy. This canine comradery will profoundly, in my, GOBY, humble opinion, influence his life’s filter of insights.   

Temporal progress of munchkins is assessed in terms of: modes of mobility, mastication and articulation. He did not conspicuously display any virtuosity in the categories of movement, eating, or talking; bidding his time, I presume. Chillin’ with normalcy, he cooed, cried, and dispensed excrements at will; and then, there was a sighting of purposeful movement: he willfully completed a spatula turn of supine to prone. His self-propelling progressed; where, in ten months he was crawling, and thirteen, walking. These triumphs of portability were accomplished in evolutionary increments. The maneuver of crawling, at its inception, he exhibited a faulty motor skill transmission; it was stuck in reverse, he would push himself backwards to get to his destination. He finally found forward and his acceleration speed tripled. Walking, a two-step stratagem; required that he implement the gravity defying feat to stand upright and balance; then, commandeer the assistance of his pudgy legs to take turns moving forward. The goal was not to stumble and fall: pain was a consequence and incentive. His initial gait emulated his Hominidae cousin, the chimpanzee, with their pendulous sway. His stumbling and chimpanzee sway were tweaked and corrected with repetitive excursions of bipedalism. 

Mastication is still in its infancy; progress is inextricably linchpin to dentition: The current count of teeth is six. He combines a gumming, teeth tearing employment to reduce morsels to a digestible aliquot to slide down his water-hose esophagus to preclude an obstructing choking episode. He has an inordinate fondness for chicken, smoked salmon, and strangely enough, cat food, to be followed by a beer chaser.  This implores a summoning from the deepest recesses of my hippocampus, the idiom “you are what you eat.” That reference is attributed to Antheleme Brillat-Savarin in Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante, 1826:

“Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” [Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are].

What exactly can we adduce about JW from his eclectic eating proclivities? Possibly, a budding genius, yea, I’m going with that assertion; after all, he is my grandson.

His articulation, a confounding complexity of the anatomical communion of lung, vocal cords and articulators: tongue, palate, cheeks, and lips; which engender his nascent garrulous gibberish with the random recognizable word that has us squealing with exuberance, parroting the sacrosanct verbiage with a dog decibel pitch hopefully enticing an encore. His current exhaustive vocabulary is: Dada, Mama, Lucy, Gatsby, and debatable cat. Yea, I know what you are thinking, how do I explicate the precocious phonation of the dogs names? If you listen carefully, you will hear in the distant background a humming loom weaving the canine conundrum myth; the dog man rapport compact, a contractual pack that transpired, “came to light”, in the dark, dank caves of dawning Neanderthal: the answer lies there; the codified mystical incantations evoking permission to surpass the world’s natural laws of physics, chemistry and biology. The dogs, Gatsby and Lucy projecting the personification of father wolf and Raksha innately petition the ancient rituals of the esoteric covenant. Hence, in compliance with the antediluvian compact, JW adroitly enunciates the family’s dogs’ names.

Generally, all conversations regarding human ontogeny, usually, address the issue of the brain; which invariable splashes over into the intransigent debate of nature vs. nurture: the dichotomy construct that purportedly contributes to the IQ. I overtly dodge this contentious topic because, “it aint’ easy to assess” especially within the flippant format that I presently contrived here in this essay…a lot of authors use the expressed cop-out of, it, the subject that is cumbersome, is beyond the scope of the story line, and clumsily throw the reference grenade—I just pulled the pin. However, beyond the ravaging prickly thorns of the briar patch debate that assigns ownership to the agent of brain power potentiating reasoning, that is uniquely Hominid, exclaims another higher mental prowess that Homo sapiens possess: moral judgment. The source of this lofty gray-matter endowment is scaffold with hormones (oxytocin), and the plausible innate and heritable impulse to imitate empathetic behaviors. JW’s parents, Melissa and Justin, love animals and the altruistic, respectful kindness, which is demonstrable daily to the family pets has not escaped the scrutinizing attention of my grandson who precociously emulates. Empathy is inextricably implicit to moral judgment and watching my grandson gingerly pet our cat Copernicus suggest that were ever his brain’s epicenter of empathy resides, it most assuredly is hypertrophied.

Past Is Prologue In A Letter To My Grandson


Dear Jackson:
You entered this natural world a touch earlier than expected; apparently, you had a pressing undisclosed agenda looming and the confinement of a uterus was impeding its initiation. Temporal prematurity aside, if by chance, you have some answers, LIFE strategic solutions to the troubles we, Homo “sapiens” (debatably wise) woe: a sagacious consult/guidance would be immensely appreciated. As you settle in and become acquainted with your parents; your assessment might very well accede to your “gobby’s”, that’s me, (you will get to know me soon enough), your mother is the spitting image of your nana, brown hair, chocolate brown eyes, an uranium isotope of energy who lights up a room when she enters, emanating scintillating venues of possibilities; your father, the complimentary harnessing nuclear plant facility to your mother’s raw energy is of a sound alloy character, who is of deliberate, resolute conversation and exudes in confidence: He has recently finished his graduate course work for a MBA. We are expecting big things from him.
Now, your gobby, me, I’m a very peculiar man; 57 YO, balding with pony-tail that sports “John Lennon glasses (a reference you will learn about latter), who revels in the perfunctory routine of a early morning visit to Starbucks for coffee, writing and reading. Euphemistically, I’m characterized as a Liberal Democrat, naturalistic[ism] (all phenomena can be explicated mechanically and devoid of purpose, human needs and desires) monist (demure the supernatural), but pejoratively as a Liberal Atheist; which defines me as what I am not, conversely to what I am: since the prefix “a” means not or without. Trust me when I admonish, that for the sake of initiating dialogue, “the conversation”, embracing Atheism as a perspective venue to sway a philosophical position is singularly anemic. A less offensive, but tolerable, sophisticated engaging tactic to challenge indoctrinated childhood convictions are an impartial study of nature and human societies, which, as I have found, would avail a vast continuum of innumerable considerations to liberate falsifiable observations that obviate the God of the gap ruse by the faithful in palatable terms, not acerbic atheistic jargon. As you will soon academically discern, the nano-cyber techno 21st century standard of living has and is ascending and advancing at light speed, its civilization enhancing successes are a putative portend pronouncement of the irrefutable testimony to the power of the scientific method as prima facie elucidator of gleaning truths from facts wrung from the natural world: no divine intervention! My political affiliation is of the New Deal-Great Society persuasion; where presidents F.D. Roosevelt and L.B. Johnson instituted policies that produced and protected a middle class; and, with my academic studies rooted in marine biology and my protracted amorous relationship with the Atlantic Ocean, have engendered a concomitant passion to embrace and politically support public policies that direct an environmentally responsible renewable energy harnessing stewardship.
I am who I am, as you will be, for the most part, because of parental protagonist tendentiousness: Your parents will have a predilection to readily share their opinions; make no mistake, this is not advice, but an edict; especially, if the counsel is coming from your mother. Refrain from your initial reflex to recoil and rebel; trust your gobby, for if you were to winnow their mentoring insight, you will be pleasantly commission with a kernel of erudition.
There has been three life junctures that have had a pronounced indelible stamping of my core “character signature”: Catholicism, Theory of Evolution, and military service. Your great grand parents have been integral in all three; your parents too, will have the same life tooling impact on you! Catholicism’s dogma of “you are your brother’s keeper” birthed fraternal twin life tactics of the humanist philosophy, where the ownership of responsibility for the welfare of children, elderly and the poor, is ultimately mitigated through community and self sacrifice; and, the Liberal Democrat politics of egalitarian pluralism, environmental sustainability of natural resources and safety, affordable schools and health care for all citizens, and a fair and equitable progressive tax system that maintains the infrastructure of this grand country. My military stint imbued empathetic leadership, integrity, comradeship, and loyalty; all sterling attributes every young man should have the good fortune and opportunity to experience, which was bequeathed to me through the regimental training of Officers in the Marine Corp. The Theory of Evolution liberated me from the shackles of sectarian doctrine that promulgated Divine creationism with the advent of the 1859 publication of the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace explicating by natural means how all species on earth could be the product of ancestor descendant relationship. To extol the Theory of Evolution as the regal scientific theory of all time would still fall short of its justly preeminence; for, it is more important than Copernicus’ heliocentric, Gamow’s big bang, and J.J. Thomson’s structure of the atom theories: it flings man back into the natural mix; where we are not supernaturally special and designed in God’s image. The recognition of biological evolution invalidated how humans think about themselves and their place in the universe————————-and yes, I have all these life experience baggages, three to be exact, because of your great grandparents. Your great grand nana was insistent that my spiritual core should be properly manicured, she sent me to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School. Your great grand pappy was concerned about my external shell and strongly advocated military service. Both great grand ps’ wanted to insure that the anatomical nexus of core and shell was properly wired, and jointly conspired to robustly promote higher education, the university life——————and there, amongst the books, there were so many books, I was taught to think critically, logically—and it was in this milieu laden with the “book” I supplanted faith with reason and was instructed on how to employ the scientific method, whereupon all life questions are addressed with a hypothesis, experiment and verification; and the solutions all reside within the natural realm.
So Jackson, I hereby bestow onto you our family doctrine of traditions [PAST], as muddled and mired in contradictory hypocrisy as it may boldly appear: Your parents love you unconditionally in spite of their judgmental admonishments and tone; you are your parents, your parents are you which is a direct reflection of genetics and parental rearing [there is a subliminal imbuing of their idiosyncrasies]; and unfortunately for you, this subliminal contagion transcends to the second generation readily [a little bit of me and nana], sorry dude; family gatherings are not optional, they are obligatory; we debate religion and politics while we imbibe coffee and beer; and the [PROLOGUE], your queue, is the Act of the Shakespearean play you are attending University and all that is you and us will be put to the test…
Good luck with that, I am sure you will do fine, lov’ Gobby

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