I aspire to be average, normal, regular, unexceptional. Odd, right? Considering that being characterized as average is usually seen as an insult. In our society, parents are admonished to do all they can to enhance the self-esteem of their offspring. Kids are told that they are the best, extraordinary, winners, special, heroes possessing some extraordinary ability or talent. (The misplaced and deleterious idea of enhancing self-esteem in kids is the subject of future blog, so look for that later.) The result of such unwarranted praise is that people are convinced, at an early age, that they are different from or better than others. These differences are to be embraced and celebrated. On some vaguely defined criteria established by well-meaning parents or others in their immediate realm, these confident young people stand apart. I write to declare my admiration for the average. Yes, the middle of the road, the convergence of the mean, median, and mode is just fine with me. I like the idea of being average and commonplace. Why adopt this seemingly self-effacing position? The answer is found in my recent hospitalizations. In one case, a potentially life-threatening emergency, I was absolutely unremarkable in medical – speak. The doctors had seen that/done that countless times. They were clear sense on what to do and how to do it, because what I had was unremarkable and something they had successfully corrected hundreds or thousands of times. Lucky me! The other procedure warranted by my condition was a bit more unusual and difficult to treat. In fact, the surgeon and the gastroenterologist treating me admitted they were in a gray zone – with no easy answers on how to proceed. There we talked about probabilities – if we do ‘a’ then the probability of ‘b’ will be diminished by x percent. Alternatively, we could do nothing for now and just ‘see what happens’. My surgeon and gastroenterologist conferred, offered their best recommendation, and they were anything but average. These extraordinary doctors, coupled with the state of the art technology they employed, triumphed and all is well, but not without some difficult moments. Some of you may be thinking that I am mixing apples and oranges talking about self-esteem and medical conditions in the same essay, and of course, you are correct. The point is that I learned that being average, medically-speaking, is a good thing, and being just like thousands of other patients is okay with me.
Interests include biological anthropology, evolution, social behavior, and human behavior. Conducted field research in the Tana River National Primate Reserve, Kenya and on Angaur, Palau, Micronesia, as well as research with captive nonhuman primates at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and the Institute for Primate Research, National Museums of Kenya.