I wonder about the plasticity of souls.

I mean that in the way a botanist talks about genetics.

The same species of tree can look very different, depending on its environment. For example, in sunny, hot, dry, windy region with depleted soils, a tree might grow to have small leaves that are very thick and waxy: built just right to withstand the sun’s intensity. Its trunk and branches will twist and turn in their relentless fight against the wind. And the roots—like a third-world dog—will have searched in countless directions for any promising bit of nutrient.

Compare that tree to the same species growing in the plush understory of a taller canopy, or in a pampered urban yard. Its leaves would be considerably thinner and broader, to maximize sun-catching potential. Its trunk and branches—that have been protected from the harsher elements—might look closer to a textbook’s idea of perfection. And the roots, which have always been surrounded by plentiful water and fertilizer, would likely remain close to the trunk. This tree would radiate plumpness and moisture.

Are people’s souls just as plastic as trees’ genetics?

A tree’s environment can’t really change the tree’s essence, but it can considerably alter the tree’s course of existence, its potential for growth, its ability to thrive. How much of me do I owe to my environment? And, how has my impact on my environment altered the growth of others?

This thought came to me after waking up in cold sweat last week. I dreamt that a shy, outcast boy in my highschool class was a serial killer. I knew it. But nobody else did. Now awake, I turned on a light to push away the creepy morning darkness. It was just a dream.

But, if it was true? What could have happened in his life to inspire such hideous actions? Or would he have chosen to be a serial killer no matter what else anyone did? Is it possible that, given another environment, he never would have dreamed of treating people that way?

A significant handful of people have influenced the shape of my core. What if I’d never met them? Would my core be a different shape?

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One Comment on “I wonder about the plasticity of souls.”

  1. Maria says:

    I wonder about that too. I wonder how much a soul, wether a plant’s or human’s, is affected by its environment from the moment it enters the womb.


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