We are like music.
Music is a pattern. A specific arrangement of sound waves playing through time. Who we are, our consciousness, the "I" that is reading these words, is a also pattern. An arrangement of biology and neurology shaping itself through time.
Our genes are like the score. One may think the entirety of the music is contained within these symbols, but this is not true. The instruments, the performers, the acoustics, an unlimited number of factors beyond the symbols upon the page define the sound we hear. Our genes gives us limits and form but they do not define us.
Our epigenetics, our gene expression as governed by our embryological and childhood environment, are like the instruments. A classical piece can be varied endlessly based on the instruments selected by the orchestra. The sound of a rock ballad comes as much from the guitar as from the player and score. And our music, no matter the score, can almost never reach its full potential when played through instruments damaged by a life marred by early malnutrition or abuse or disease.
Our psychology, the facets of ourselves that grow from our upbringing and choices in life, are like the players in an orchestra or band. We each contain multitudes within us. Urges and fears and moods that fade in and out, combining in infinite variations, each sometimes the dominant force and sometimes barely present. They may be tied to the score before them and limited by the instruments they hold, but ultimately the music is determined by the players.
So who are we in this scheme of things? What is left for the conscious actor residing behind our eyes? We are the conductor or producer. The one who directs the players of our psychology, signaling to them how to make use of the instruments of our physicality to best play the music of our genes. We are responsible for the music of our lives even if much of it is ultimately beyond our control. Many a great piece of music has gone to waste through an inattentive conductor. And on occasion a passionate producer has created a beautiful album from the work of unreliable players upon substandard instruments.