There was a fascinating documentary a couple of years ago about a group of newly hatched geese which imprinted on a researcher--the first creature they saw upon hatching. To the hatchlings, the researcher was their parent. They followed him everywhere and he had to assume the role of an adult goose in order to show them how to be geese. When winter approached and the time came for them to migrate, the researcher learned to pilot an ultra-light aircraft in order to lead them south. Viewed from the ground, they formed the perfect V, with the researcher and his little open aircraft at the head of the V.
Though imprinting studies have mainly been done on birds, it is a factor in other species, Man included.
Imprinting is not always as instantaneous an event as bonding with one's parents. It continues slowly through early childhood and goes far beyond the usual imprinting between parents/children. Mine was a slower process, though the end result is still with me. Imagination is a very important tool in the imprinting process. It helps children learn, grow, make choices that will remain with them throughout life, and helps them understand the world as it really is. But having used the imagination to help in the imprinting process, most children make the transition between reality and make believe naturally. I never did. I imprinted early-on on make believe and on happily-ever-after and pretty much stopped there.
My imprinting on happily-ever-after is probably responsible for the fact that I spend so much of my time in frustration when things do not go the way they are supposed to go. (You'll note I did not say "the way I think they are supposed to go"--the way they are supposed to go is the way they are supposed to go. Period.) If I can do it in imagination, I damned well should be able to do it in reality.
I find it significant that even at a very young age, listening to and later reading fairy tales, it was never the princess I concentrated on (or ever, for one single moment, identified with), but the handsome prince. I never grew out of it, which I am convinced is a major reason I, sincerely, have such a hard time accepting reality.
I doubt one's sexual orientation is influenced by imprinting. I sincerely believe that being gay is no more a conscious choice than the decision to have brown eyes. However, if it were, the first person I ever set eyes on must have been the doctor or a male nurse.
And again imagination comes into play. I have always loved beauty, and grace, and charm, as I perceive them, just as I have always expected thoughtfulness and common civility as encompassed by the Golden Rule to be. I love the idea of romantic love, and yet relate it, for myself, only to beautiful (in my eyes) men because beautiful men embody everything I have always longed for. But I have never succeeded in believing myself to be beautiful--a fact verified by every reflexive surface.
There are many different types of love between humans--the love of family, the broader love of friends, and the very special love between just two humans, which is differentiated from the other forms by the element of sexual attraction. But my personal concept of romantic love and sexuality attraction includes only men. Women have always been, to me, a totally different species. But my love for women is and has always been strictly of the friends-and-family type, totally devoid of any romantic or sexual-attraction component. While I realize this is all but incomprehensible to most people--and I'm sorry to say may possibly be offensive to some--it is simply a statement of fact and has never been an issue for me.
The combination of my early imprinting on fantasy at the expense of reality, my totally unrealistic assumption that I am somehow separate and apart from everyone else, coupled with my expectations for myself being infinitely higher than could ever be realized...and the resultant self loathing that evolves from it, have produced the person writing this blog. I don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad. It doesn't matter. It just is.
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