Anne Tyler, one of my favorite authors, recently revealed that her next book Clock Dance, is based on her theory that a person’s entire life and identity can be shaped by a single decision made in early childhood. As early as seven years of age, Tyler says a child can know exactly who they want to be and what type of temperament they want to have. For instance, Tyler said in her published Note prefacing Clock Dance:
“I believe that our entire lives can be shaped by a single decision that we make during childhood as to who, exactly, we should be. As to how we should be, what kind of people we want to become. ”
She provides a few examples of decisions she made when seven years of age, after studying the two grown ups in her life. Upon comparison of her parents, Tyler decided that she’d rather be like the steady, gentle, patient one, instead of the sharp tempered and erratic one. And that being the case, she knew she’d have to not marry anyone patient, as clearly, there “is only a certain amount of patience to be had, and you don’t want it all to go to the other person.”
She leads readers to surmise that one decision to be the patient one, basically formed her life and became the catalyst for her next best selling novel.
Do you agree with her theory? Can we decide as early as seven who we will become? What our personality traits will be? Maybe. But then again, don’t we always have the opportunity for reflection and to change, to grow? Or maybe we just humor ourselves with the idea that we can or will change, yet underlying personality traits of either being hyper, dramatic, patient, shy, short-tempered, etc. are embedded into our soul like a watermark that never leaves. So are we born with any genetic predispositions, or do we choose all of our personality traits based on our environments and what we choose to become?
What do you think?
Decisions always make who we are. While it is difficult to say whether someone will have the maturity to take a strong decision at seven, once made it will change person’s life no matter at what point in life he or she decides to do so.
That’s true. Thanks for chiming in! I find it fascinating that Anne Tyler believes we can be so compelled by watching our parents that we ultimately decide our temperament and therefor much of the trajectory of our lives. I’m still wrestling with the lack of free will or change or growth through the years that we all hope for!