Saturday, February 12, 2011

Divine Valentine

When I was younger, I always wondered whether  nature or nurture determines who we are. After I had children, I changed my answer from nurture to nature and haven’t looked back since.

I was born in a period when social scientists convincingly told us that our social and physical environments played a primary role in shaping who we were, how we looked at the world, and how we chose to live our lives.

But then I had children, and what I saw changed my mind. They both seemed to come into the world with very specific temperaments and personalities. No clean slate there.  I believed my husband and I would play some role in shaping their lives, for better or worse, and it was our job to provide an environment which allowed their true selves to unfold in the best way possible. But I stopped thinking it was much more than that.

Now that my children have both hit their 20s, I still think the same. They came into the world who they are today. A few tweaks and adjustments were made here and there though parental guidance. Coupled with a few life-altering bumps and bruises that undoubtedly massaged their DNA and affected their ‘outcomes,’ they are who they are. 

That brings me to my nomination today for the most Divine of all Valentines. Alice Herz-Sommer, a woman who reeks love from every pore. Alice, is the oldest Holocaust survivor in the world, and at 106, still plays piano every day.

Alice went through a ‘rough patch’ as the English so understatedly referred to WWII. Because her rough patch had a concentration camp in it, by all rights, Alice could be excused if she came out a little testy. But that’s not what happened. Not even Nazi SS officers could shake Alice’s foundations. Watch the video, you’ll be amazed (and inspired).

I’m sure we’d all like to have the strength, courage, fortitude and beauty that Alice possesses in spades. I’m not sure we all can. I don’t think we can berate ourselves for it, either. Is it  something we can just decide to be and by hard work achieve? Not sure. Whatever it is, nature or nurtture (I still say nature), Alice got it right.

Enjoy the video. I think Alice might steal your heart. Happy Valentine's Day everyone,

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