The sum of those who went before

The thinker ...

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” (Oscar Wilde)

An interesting thought, because the path taken to determining who we are is a incredibly long one.

The generations before us have each contributed to our uniqueness today. It’s no accident that we are who we are – we’re a combination of little bits of DNA passed down over hundreds of years.

I could have been a mathematician and a theologian.

Way back in the 1700s, there was a young man of amazing intellectual prowess – Elijah ben Solomon (1720-1797). We was said, from the age of ten, to have held Talmudic discussions with the rabbis, and was well versed in astronomy, physics and mathematics. He was later known as the Vilna Gaon, the pinnacle of greatness and glory for Vilna, the leading centre of learning in Poland.

I’m descended from Elijah ben Solomon … ninth generation I believe.

My children are tenth.

Sadly, his bits of DNA didn’t quite make it to me. My father was definitely blessed with the maths gene … he used to add up numberplates on the cars that passed him while walking into work every morning. His challenge was to find the highest tallying numberplate. I think he multipled them as well.

I was quite surprised when told me that … it was a game, his mind was always active.

I was unlucky in that I never knew grandparents. My father’s parents perished during World War II and my mother’s parents died when I was too young to know them. Too young to see the similarity between them and my parents and too young to know whether I inherited any of their genes.

I recognise things in myself that I know have come from my mother and father. I see things in my children, in their expressions, that hark back to the previous generation.

Even though each of us is unique, we are the sum total of all of those who have been before


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