Friday, October 30, 2015

What is Heritage

What is Heritage

We went to an Oktoberfest on the 24th of October in Staunton. And while the music was good and there were many food offerings by local shops of somewhat German cuisine, it was smaller than expected. Fortunately the location was quite interesting itself.

The Frontier Culture Museum is quite similar to a museum that we visited in 2012 in Norway, the Norsk Folkmuseum. It seems to be a favorite type of museum for Jessie, and I quite enjoyed wandering around as well. Looking at the houses brought in from around the countryside and talking to the recreators made me think about how we interpret history, both culturally and personally.

Since the festival was based on a royal marriage in Munich, Germany, it is definitely a German festival, though often people love it for the beer. I am about half-german with my mother’s side mostly German peoples, or nearby as I have learned from my mother. This certainly influenced my decision to take German in Junior High and High School.

Did my heritage influence more than my language selection in school? My grandfather and my great-grandfather were both engineers, and despite both my parents having formal training in biology, my brother and I both pursued engineering. I went with computer engineering and my brother mechanical.

It would have been easy for me to pursue a biology degree, at least I am pretty certain. In fact I still enjoy going out to count birds or help out in other volunteer capacities. Was my outlook for imposing order on the universe ingrained so much so that I needed to be a doer rather than an observer? Was I more entranced by figuring out how to make something work than to watch a process?

I know that this could easily turn into a debate of nature vs. nurture. I really don’t think it is one or the other. Even though my mother never did formal engineering she has been doing “quilt engineering” which for some patterns is really about the engineering. And the most influential toy other than rocks, sticks, and mud was probably Legos. I spent hours making buildings and spaceships just to keep them for a few days and then make a new design.

I could draw parallels between the way I approach software, always tweaking, sometimes tearing down a whole design to build fresh.

But also just the enjoyment of building things that work. There is such an innate feeling of satisfaction when something that I built works smoothly, maybe this is a bit learned but it feels more basic than that, like it has been passed down.

It isn’t just the joy of making something work, it is also the persistence. In general I am easily distracted. Even if the bunny-trails are all work related I find myself tracing back on paths of thought that were all relevant, but quickly got into the “not now” realm. However, when it comes to it I can really make solid progress on my projects, quickly depleting known requirements.

I think part of the heritage question is just confirmation bias. I know that my ancestors were engineers, so when I became an engineer it was like, “Of course, I am predisposed to becoming an engineer.”

Then the question becomes, what heritage are we leaving the next generation? Partly I think we are leaving a pretty poor heritage, there is just so much “me” going on that the next generation is either going to rebel or become even more deeply enthralled by the focus. I just wrote a whole post about myself, why should you care?

We should all be looking at our actions, what heritage we are leaving. Even if it isn’t for our direct descendants we have a lot of influence with people not much younger than ourselves, not rebuking or chastising, but by being a model, and a friendly ear.

The festival was pretty good, especially the Band from Munich near the end. A festival based off of a festival that started 205 years ago, let’s keep it going and not forget why it’s celebrated. Just like we shouldn’t forget why we need to think about our heritage, even at my age.

How do you look at your heritage? What are you hoping to leave as your future heritage?

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