Regulars and Shorts, Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: Na or Nurture

By Dennis Hinkamp

Thoughts on a birthday.
by Dennis Hinkamp

Is it nature or nurture? The answer is definitely “yes.” I just calibrated another birthday. Yes, calibrated; you can’t really celebrate a number without calibrating it. That’s what all those actuarial tables are about. You take your age, location, known genetic predispositions, list of good habits divided by bad habits and come up with an elegant algorithmic number that is accurate with a degree of certainty of plus or minus 50 years.

Due to another birthday and a youthful cluster of local obituaries of late, I have been contemplating this and just about everything else a lot more than usual. Anybody who writes or enjoys writing is familiar with the term “arch of the story.” Well, my arch is past its apex. I just made that up so consider it my gift to my passed-middle-aged friends. The next time someone says you are over the hill, you can now say “Why no, my arch is just past its apex.”

In my personal story I would like to take full credit for all the hard work I did to achieve my successes and blame everything else on genetics, parenting and astrology.

I would like to specifically call out the Catholic Church and the nuns, brothers and priests therein for my fatalistic approach to most things. However, when you worship at the Church of Low Expectations, small things can make your day. So, it’s not all bad. To be fair, I would have to credit Catholic school for its no-excuses approach to education that served me well K-12. Congratulations on the new refreshingly sensible Pope, but I’m still not coming back.

I am grateful that I am an introvert because for some reason it is now cool. I think it is just a fad, but I’m glad that I stuck with it from the very start rather than being seduced into the club of extroverts who were always bullying me. “Come on, all your friends are doing it,” they’d say, “be the loudest person in the room even if you have nothing of substance to say.”

If I can brag about anything it would be that I have been a lifetime learner. I don’t mean this in the Phoenix Uni­ver­sity too-many-degrees way but rather being a compulsive observer, tinkerer and note-taker. Learning is to living what movement is to sharks; if you stop, you sink and die.

Thank you, sports coaches, for instilling in me some sense of routine and disciple that has mostly kept me from becoming a typical American obesity statistic. I have plenty of bad habits that compensate for this, but the love of self-propelled movement has been a constant blessing in my life.

I’d like to thank dogs for teaching me that nothing really matters other than food, sleep and companionship; that, and a comfortable place to sleep, eat and enjoy that companionship.

I would also like to thank coffee for keeping me awake and alcohol for putting me to sleep and the wisdom to usually know when to use which.

I’m not quite ready to write my bucket list but I know it will involve a lot of dogs, an RV and chicken strips.

Dennis Hinkamp would like to thank the Universe for a (mostly) great 58 years.

This article was originally published on March 1, 2014.