Hi-jacked by psychologists for describing humans, a number of agriculturalists already got this simple notion on lock:
It’s not about nature vs. nurture, your genetic heritage vs. the environment … it’s the all about the interaction that creates unique individuals from such deterministic sources. And, the phenotypic results (i.e., any observable trait) of genes and environment interacting are called the Gene x Environment Interaction, or GxE, for short.
Hands down, the best part of Thailand, was watching my father’s personality blossom as a result of GxE.
Now, my father is strange cat. I’ve only been exposed to certain dimensions of his personality and the roles that he inhabits. As a father, he’s protective, but always gives that real talk. As a boss, he runs a tight ship (evidenced by 5 years of working with him at the family restaurant), is calculated and thoughtful. As a husband, he diligently attends my mother’s side of the family’s events, drinking and smoking with the uncles in the past, but still being cordial now that that time has passed.
But. Every now and then, I get a glimpse of other dimensions of my father. Old pictures like this (Um, excuse me? What’s that look? With the High-Life ringer tee?!) or this (Why with the gun?!). Stories of how when he came to America he and buddy started off as dishwashers at a Moroccan restaurant and moved up fairly quickly to basically run that. Or, how he got krunk and drove 120 miles per hour on dirt roads (a cousin witnessed this, my father never told me). What about how he would serenade my mother outside her house with his guitar? Let’s face it, at one point, my dad seemed like he was a severely cool guy.
So, maybe he can’t wild out like he used to, but let me tell you … there’s something about Thailand brings out the best in my dad. On the real, my dad is FUNNY. And smart, witty, and so open. So gregarious. I don’t know how to describe it. It is a wonderful event to witness.
I’m not saying he wasn’t all those things in the states. He’s lived in the states for over 35 years, more than half his life. He speaks English. Fluently. While he’s no professor, he understands how to make puns and be funny in English. He understands intonation and cadence to get a feeling across in English words. Don’t get it twisted. But, something about being in Thailand, speaking his native tongue … He’s so quick. Surrounded by smiles. Man, my dad is dope … I can’t write about it any more, I can only show you … Hopefully, his shine will emanate through the pictures.