Why do we do things?

Roderick Strange, great name for a vicar, is at it again in Credo. Times December 14th 2019. His ordination is coming up 50 years - what made him want to be a priest? Not a mystical sense of vocation. More what he ought to do - obligation, duty and correctness. As a boy, teenager, young man where would these notions have come from? Intention and imagination come into the discussion. An aim/plan or the action of forming new ideas, images and concepts. Rod tells us that the former was behind his obligation, 'the ever deepening desire, that guides us'. It still is.
  Rod and his colleagues have a tendency to use language I don't understand. So I can only reply with my own memories of wanting to be a medic. We were all socialists in those days - 1950s, 1960s. Going to change the world, tax the rich, abolish public school and so on, the whole nine yards as they say in America. I think we had a strong sense of injustice - life chances were dictated by family wealth.

  Our family had nowt. Mum was a shop assistant and dad a bookkeeper. Dad despised the trappings of the financial elite - cars, golf clubs, big houses and the like. Two things followed. Despite issues with wealth, he had aspirations and was canny with money. Second he instilled this in older brother and myself. You had to get on. Passing the eleven plus and the 1944 Education Act gave us a lift up. There was a lot of conflict within the family, because I kept getting distracted from 'getting on' until I entered the sixth form at a boys' grammar school and became intellectually committed to biology, physics and chemistry. Teaching and medicine were the two outlets. Other than visiting my gp I had no experience of medicine, but I was aware doctors were better than the likes of us. Remote and mysterious like Denis Compton or the Royal Family. That was for me. So I chose 'seeking fame and fortune' - a mix of intent and imagination. I knew I had to have a plan of qualifications and I also had plenty of ideas of what kind of position I was going to occupy in society. But not much of a vocation beyond a misty unclear notion of saving lives which was a vague fit with socialism.
  I am not sure where Rod got his obligations from, but he is honest and straight, so maybe a bright religious family. I'm pretty sure where mine came from - sitting on my dad's knee. I did get a small sense of vocation eventually, something my pal Eric insists I have, but the majority of my commitment was pretty selfish. Each patient's problem became a puzzle to solve. I enjoyed that and maybe I was helpful as well.
  Rod describes two of his jobs and the joy he experienced in both. I had four as a junior, two as a consultant and four when I returned to work after illness when it had become a job and definitely not a joy. Selfish again - we had to finance my son's pilot training - thanks to W Yorkshire Fire and Rescue where I finished my medical life in 2011 as Brigade MO. Bags of admiration for the guys on the front line.
  My son as buzz lightyear. He likes the good things in life.

Vigilant quite old cricketer and umpire statues spot something in the undergrowth - it's emotional

What have these guys seen?

Maybe something dangerous or tempting?

Another shot at discovering what it is to be human? Our long-standing genetic story includes survival on the plains of Africa as a result of cooperation, collaboration, community, planning and looking out for each other. In very simple terms, the four 'Fs' - fight, flight, food and finding a mate - helping to keep our genes circulating through the generations. And our alarm system - emotions. Psychology Today tells us that emotions are physiological, triggered by 'disruption of familiar' during our continuous sensory surveillance of the world around us and within us. 
  I was confused when I first came across this. I thought emotions were crying and laughing and all the feelings in between. Yet they are actually triggers for behaviour which ensure that genes survive. Behaviour that needs preparation - arousal for example produces changes in muscle tone, heart rate and energy levels. Resulting behaviour could be avoid/attack from danger or approach with interest. It all originates in the limbic system - a deep seated set of brain structures common to all mammals. 
  Adult human emotions also result from thinking and imagination, part of the function of the cortical sections of the brain that sit on top of the limbic system 'like a helmet'. The mix of emotion and reason helps us make sense of our world.
  Steven Stosny then tells us that most emotions serve a useful purpose, 'foster growth and empowerment' - interest, compassion, enjoyment, conviction, shame, guilt, distress - again to protect the genes. We have all come across the less than helpful emotions however such as fear, anger and hatred. Good on the plains of Africa, but not much help in our modern world. 
  Where do feelings come in? Apart from disclosure in psychotherapy? They are our subjective experience of emotion. Our spin on what is happening to our bodies, different in different people and influenced by our histories. We attribute meanings but they are arbitrary and inconsistent. And then I read someone else and feelings/emotions get all muddled up again.
  We continuously scan our external and internal environments. We might detect a problem - as Luther would say at a crime scene 'It's not right'. We react, sometimes inappropriately, apparently helping our genes survive. Something triggered the behaviour. Does it matter? Well I guess it does or you spend half your life in complete ignorance of consequences and the other half saying sorry. Thankfully I think there are more of the positive nurturing feelings/emotions.
  Just where listening to a concert or reading a book fits in? They are behaviours ? survival of something.

Two old geezers and The Talbot Arms - 'not for the likes of us'

The Talbot, a posh pub in Malton, first seen by me in the Times review of country pubs. Stuffed grouse in display cabinets behind the bar. Wood wall panels. Warm wood fire. Comfy arm chairs.

The local brewery, Brass Castle, supplies the blonde. It's vegan. No animal clearing products here - isinglass finings the barmaid explained are fish derived. Having little positive to say about food fads, I was taken aback by this revelation. It tasted well, a tad sweet. We decanted to the bakers for lunch and meat pies.
We had an interesting journey from Huddersfield to Scarborough. Cancelled beyond York, we were guided onto a bus. The A64 was closed so the back road - Kirkby Lonsdale, Pickering etc. A bit late but very pleasant. Over the hill to Scarborough Hospital, passed GCHQ and there we were - Spenny Hill Farm and shop - their outlet on Ramshill near us on S. Cliff shut September Bank so now we know where to get our family steak pies and gammon and black pudding burgers.

The rest of our time? The Highlander, Golden Ball, Wetherspoon's and Scarborough Flyer, a full set. Food by M&S. Sleep in front of the TV. Completely 'blobbed'.