Long time ago, in the last grade of elementary school, I had to write an essay on what I wanted to be when I grew up. I asked my father ‘what’s it called when you want to find out things about human behavior through animal behavior?’. He told me it was called being an ethological anthropologist. This is what I wrote in the essay.
Then, a year later in the library of my high school, I found Konrad Lorenz or rather, his books and mentally devoured every single one of them over and over again.
In the years after that, I had sequentially aspired to being a doctor in Chemistry, a Marine Biologist and a stand-up comedian. And today I found myself, 25 years old, just had an offer for a PhD-position in behavioral physiology and in a class of human ethology. (Although my father had been semantically correct about the ethiological anthroplogy, that’s just not what it’s called ).
And there was a man teaching the class, a smallish German with a beard, who had been taken on an expedition when he was about my age. This adventure had taken him literally through a multitude of academic disciplines and a number of self-reflective conundrums. It had also taken him to the inlands of New Guinea to a tribe that was still living in the stone age and had never had contact with the modern world.
The first question he asked the class was about Konrad Lorentz, I answered it, digging frantically through the mind of my younger self, and my world, my life even, just fell into place…
How I would have loved for my father to have been there, he would’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. This amazing lecture took all day, and at the end, you just wanted to hear more! Effortless leaps between subject matter of anthropology, evolutionary biology, philosophy, etymology in multiple languages and medical biology, one more fascinating than the next. My dad would have loved it. I loved it.
And I am just so thankful, (not in the least because it is kind of a fluke that I ended up in that class) for that experience this morning, I think I shall cherish it for the rest of my life..
Gosh, I feel like baking the guy a cake..