In Memory of Francis Gritzmacher


Frank's musings
I was sitting here looking for the paperwork that the surrogate court sent me to finalize Frank's estate. This has dragged on much longer than it should have due to the COVID-19 shutdown of the court. I picked up a packet of papers to fill out just before they went into shutdown. And I've been waiting ever since. When they got to the point where they answered the phone, they told me to mail the completed papers in. I did that and waited a month without any response. I called back and after a few episodes of phone tag, talked to someone. They had not seen the papers, but would look for them and get back to me. I never heard back. As things are starting to open back up a bit, I'm hoping I can get some movement on it. But, if the worst happened and they lost the papers, I was looking back through my records to see if I could resubmit the claim. I scanned everything in and can resubmit it all, except some things will need to be notarized again. No loss, just a giant PITA.

But as I was looking through the files, I came across a file that I had kept from Frank. It was on his laptop and seemed to be something he had been working on near the end. Pretty standard existential musings, but interesting and just SO Frank. I thought I'd share it here.


One thing that has really grasped me recently is the concept of you. Me. Who am I? What am I? Physically, mentally and metaphysically, what makes me, me? And I hope that my thoughts on this is something that enlightened and intrigues you as well. At least, I hope it makes you think a bit differently.

It's a simple question, isn't it? Who are you? We're born into this world and given a moniker by our parents. Society pushes us into certain roles and we conform to them. So, is the you that walks around the you that you would have been all along? It's an interesting prospect and a fun place to start this journey. First, the whole name thing. I think it's kind of absurd that one the most defining aspects of what makes me who I am, my name, was chosen on my behalf by 2 people who barely knew me at the time they bestowed it upon me. I've simply accepted that I am "Francis" or "Frank". Years ago, in my teenage years, this whole name identity thing dawned on me. I wanted to give up being Frank and be called Red. That's the name I personally identify with as me, but almost nobody called me that because I've been long established as Frank. Why did I choose Red as my name? I don't know, but it felt right to me. When I look at myself in the mirror, I see Red, not Frank. It's just how I feel. For the most part, people take their name or part of their name, and use that for the duration of their life. Maybe we should re-examine this in the future. Why go through life being called something you're not truly comfortable with?

Other things that make me who I am, is my likes and dislikes. At least I get to choose those, right? Or are those placed upon as well? Environmental factors often persuade us to like what we do. In our childhood years, we are information sponges, so it's often the things we are exposed to the most that we go on to continue to like later in life. I can trace a lot of my personal likes to things that I was exposed to as a child. Video Games, certain music choices, love for football. All of these things I found as a child and clung to. Very few things I found as an adult has gripped me like these childhood fascinations. I have a very strong fondness for Monopoly. It is no coincidence that some of my favorite memories growing up were playing Monopoly at my house with my friends. Playing certain types of video games, I can trace back to watching my brother play them or playing them at friends houses. So, even though it's decades later, I still greatly enjoy these things. Had I not been exposed to them at that point in time, there's a significant chance I wouldn't enjoy them as much if at all. If we had played Scrabble instead of Monopoly, would I be a Scrabble fan? Hard to say.

It's always fascinated me that opinions can vary so much between two different people on something that seems so clear. I'm not talking anything political or philosophical, but something like Strawberry or Apple. In my mind there's a clear and decisive answer to that. However, there are people out there who do answer differently. Is it because that flavor is linked stronger to a childhood memory, as I outlined above, or is there something biologically different about their tongue that processes flavor differently than I do? Because if we had the same exact flavor profiles, there's no way they would pick the other choice. There's no real evidence that we taste things that differently, so what is it that determined this preference? This is one of those strange little factors that makes you, you.

We can look at genetics as a definite manipulator on what makes you, you. Someone who is 6 foot 6 and 300 pounds will do things and act differently than someone who is 5 foot 5 and 110 pounds. Physical traits are a big part of what makes us who we are. Do we need glasses? What color is your hair? Are you thin? Are you tall? What is your bust? Some of this can be augmented with surgery, but for the most part, these things are out of our hands. Nature dictates these things and we have to acclimate our lifestyle choices around these factors. If you're tiny, no matter how much you try, you're not going to be playing center for the Knicks. If you're too tall, you're not going to be a race
jockey. There's not a whole lot I can expound on here, since we are what we are. We can't change the physical us more than dietary choices and elective surgeries. I guess the physical us can also be changed with choice of clothing and hair styles, but those are reflections of a personality which is a different extension of you.

Speaking of personality, that's something that needs addressing. It's a rather large part of who we are and what makes you. It's the you that you show people. We have two personalities. Every single one of us. There's you and there's the you that you show people. And there's sometimes more than one of those, even, depending on the person. The you that you act at work may not be the same as when you're at home with your family or at a friend's house for a party. And none of those are the you that is in your head. That's the REAL you. That's the one I'm eventually going to focus this whole thing on. But before I talk about them, I'm talking about the other parts of you. That outward you that you show others can be anything. Chipper, positive and happy. Reserved, shy and diminutive. Angry, brash and assertive. We put forward a series of emotions and a facade that hides the emotions that we don't want others to see. I often put on a positive, brave and humorous face. I crack jokes and seem like I'm very happy, but often that was to hide the fears I had inside. Those who were closer to me soon learned I had more emotions than the happy Frank they all saw. Eventually, people will see the real you, when you spend more time with them. It's almost inevitable. But, it's our nature to put up some exterior personality to hide the mmore raw emotions hidden beneath the surface. Why do we do this? I think it's like plumage in the bird world. We flaunt these feathers and it will scare away those who do not like them, and attract those that do. So, we act a specific way so that like minded individuals will see these actions and we can be around those who act similarly. We form cliques of people who think like us, and share common interests. People who are like you, think like you and thus you feel more open to sharing those inner you emotions. We find comfort in being around those who are like us. We don't like being challenged and put in uncomfortable situations, so we avoid those who think in opposition to us and make us think differently than we are comfortable with. I think this innate desire is partially to blame for the political discourse in this nation. It's not that we are Republican or Democrat, it is that we don't like thinking like the other as it challenges our perceptions of life, so we surround ourselves with similar minded viewpoints that reinforce our personal desires. We build each other up as like-minded individuals and instead of working with opposition to create solutions, we gang up on each other and refuse to acknowledge any validity in the opposing arguments. We, as a people, need to learn how to negotiate political topics without putting ourselves into it.

The you that I want to talk about, though, isn't the Facebook arguing you. You know who I'm talking about. That voice in your head. That you that makes decisions, thinks all the things, that you try to ignore before you go to bed. I don't know how your you is, but my you never shuts up. It's always talking about things. Heck, it's the one telling me to write all this down. All his idea. Do you have any control over it? Of course you do. You can stop reading this at any time by your choice and you controlled that. But at the same time, you decide to read this because it is deciding that you want to keep reading. So, it is in control. But, you are the one in control. Isn't that strange how I can talk about it, and you can understand what it is, as if it is an entity outside your control, yet at the same time you realize that I am talking about you. That entity you define as an object, is not actually an object, but you. What is it though?

At the core, we are a walking block of meat, bones and tissue controlled by a potato's worth of electromagnetic sparks. Seriously, that is all a human being is. That's science. But at the same time, we're so much more complex than that, aren't we? Everything about our body is a miracle. Look at the eye. How perfectly intricate that thing is, and how precisely it works. Or the lungs or the symbiosis of bacteria and the intestines. It's crazy how one thing being different can throw that entire organism out of whack. And what do we do to repay it? Beat it up, fill it with toxins and do everything we can to find new ways to destroy it.

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Posted on 13 Jul 2020 by Al Gritzmacher

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