My variant gene kept me awake all night!

The clock winked at me several times last night. If I close my right eye I can see the time fairly well. I don’t know why I even need to know the time. Maybe it’s simple orientation. Where am I, in time?

January 2013 Cover

125th Anniversary Edition

Restless and confused from one of my adventure-dreams, this time caving in China, I was frustrated at another night of possible hours of awake.

I turned my pillow to the cool side, took deep breaths, and tried to find that happy, quiet place within. It doesn’t always work; On such nights I get up. So last night I found myself captivated by the current National Geographic. All articles in this issue focus on humankind and exploration, from very small in size (bacteria) to very large in scope (space exploration) and was a perfect companion.

I felt such a strong connection to the stories that the pages turned themselves. David Dobbs’ story, Restless Genes gripped me at 3 a.m. He wrote about the possible genetic links to human migration and the attempts to answer questions like; Why do we explore, or move around, even when we have resources where we are? The variant of a gene known as DRD4-7R, or 7R, is the focus of several studies. This variant is tied to curiosity and restlessness.

Could it get any more clear? Here I am in the middle of the night, in a city I just moved to, unable to sleep after caving in China, and reading about a variant of a gene I probably have that explains my predicament.

The author cautions against any one-gene answer to behavior or personality. But his story carried me through a tough night and allowed me to awake-dream of wandering the Mongolian Steppes, surviving the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911, or finally getting back to sleep.

Tonight, when I wake and my clock winks at me, I will know where I am in time, and possibly better understand my restlessness.

What are you hoping to explore?

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4 Responses to My variant gene kept me awake all night!

  1. Jim says:

    Very cool interconnection Sally. Bits of all of us wandered here from the stars that formed our carbon atoms eons ago, maybe we still sense some of that restlessness right down at our core.

  2. Martha Madsen says:

    This is hilarious…I’m going to share this with John because he is always having extremely exhausting and stressful dreams like that. So much fun to hear what you are thinking about. xxoo merry christmas!!

  3. Trudy Cohen says:

    Do you remember Simon & Garfunkel’s “America”? Probably too young. Can’t say I’d like to go “caving” in China, but I know someone who’d probably like to go with you. And, Jim, yes we are indeed made of “star stuff”. Another good one, Sal.

  4. joan chandler says:

    I think I have Designer Genes that aren’t restless and have little desire to venture out to explore.
    Our bedroom window is open almost every night of the year; when I go to bed, I burrow into the comforter, and can sometimes feel the breeze – or sleet – on my hair. I fall asleep immediately, and wake up in pretty much the same position; and I seldom remember having dreams.
    BUT if I’m asked about a place I want to explore: aside from the expected answer of “oh, the woods in back of my house”, it has to be the human mind – mine and everyone else’s. Not in a physiological sense, and not in a professional way – just trying to analyze what might cause someone to be angry or discouraged or always happy or to like the color blue. I get myself into trouble occasionally for saying things like, “Well, even Hitler was a little boy playing with toy trucks once,” or “Let’s not gossip about that person until we know how she got to this point,” etc. I lectured my own children so many times about exploring others’ minds and putting themselves in others’ places, that every time I started with , “Well, you might want to consider…..”, their eyes rolled completely into their heads.
    No China caves, no Antarctic adventures for me. My exploration gene is evidently recessive.
    But the cave inside my blankets is beckoning me…….
    Good night.

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