Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Wonders of Difference

Ever since I stumbled across the blog Cottage Garden Studio; hosted by gifted artist Sarah Sullivan, I've read it regularly. Some of you might remember that I won one of her giveaways earlier this year. Others have yet to read her sympathetic and insightful blog-posts.

She has a returning column called the Quilting Bee, which this time cut to the core on a very serious topic, yet again with a sense of warmth and recognition of the heart of the matter that I sometimes think go amiss when some people discuss "them". I am talking about kids and grown up people that fall under different categories such as asperger, ADHD, tourettes, OCD etcetera. It reminded me why I wrote about mental illnesses last month.

"Years of working with children and adults with autism, Aspergers, ADHD, mental issues, learning disabilities, my sincere belief is…we are truly missing something amazing here. That we need to start looking at these children as “Differently Gifted” rather than set them apart as abnormal."
- Quilting Bee # 16

This is a way of looking at things that I hope will spread. A perspective guided by being able to see potential instead of a static problem. I wouldn't for the world want to dismiss the care that therapeutic treatment and modern medicine can offer to better the life's of people who share some of these traits, there is however also a somewhat disturbing tendency to view anything that breaks the norm in human behavior as a problem, all under the guise that everybody should function in the same way.

This demand for normalcy, can create an enormous amount of pressure on kids and even grown people to adjust and fall into line with a notion of what is believed that everybody else functions and does. The real issue here to me, is that the image of what is normal can never translate into the enormous richness of the human experience. Not even close. If we recognize that everybody already is unique and different, I think this should invite to a sense of wonder and excitement.

In all honesty, everything that sets you apart from others can in unsupportive settings be considered a weakness and a problem. Some of us experienced bullying when growing up, and I know that there don't need to be any good reason for bullying to happen. Any reason would be fine.

And while some cry themselves to sleep in their kinder years for not being normal enough to be accepted by either their family, school or community, they might later grow up to be able to give some of the finest gifts to that could ever be asked for. Gifts that come from their own unique experiences which couldn't have come from anybody else. That which is shaped by the depths of their own being.


Sarah said...

Good morning hon - amazing wonderful post!!! Thank you for adding my words-I was deeply touched that my post spoke to you.
I hate the idea that anyone outside the middle "norm" is not ok somehow!! How boring this world would be if we were all normal!
Had I listened to everyone in my ear about my husband - including his parents sadly..I would never have seen what a truly amazing man he has turned into!!! The last few years..he has just bloomed. Years of abuse because he was not what his father expected. It seems it was irrelevant that he was brilliant. Anyway..he has taught me some deep lessons about "normal".
Wonderful post hon - I am always touched by what you write here!!
Hugs and Namaste, Sarah

Cat (darklingwoods) said...

What a beautiful post! I'm a teacher and mum and strongly agree in looking for the gifts all children have. It seems so much time is spent focusing on faults and remediation when little is spent looking for strengths.

julochka said...

this is such an articulate and thoughtful post. i really love your view of the world. i think the pressure to conform on those who are "normal" is pretty heavy too and undoubtedly doing lots of damage in the world. we should embrace differences. imagine how boring the world would be without them...but i guess sarah already said that too.

great thoughts to ponder on the verge of the weekend...

sallymandy said...

Lovely, lovely! Thank you for writing once again in such an insightful and compassionate way about the realities of being outside "the norms" and what that can really mean. I agree so much with what you said about what we believe other people do. I have tortured myself for decades with negativity about not being the same as others, and this just makes everything worse. I appreciate your sincere and heartfelt writing on this subject because I need to keep becoming aware of my own self-damaging habits.


Cynthia said...

I couldn't agree more. I think an entire shift in our perception of normal is underway. How wonderful that you are moving it forward. It's my first visit...I love the sense of strength and position here in your blog. <3

Sarah said...

I left you a swan on my blog..come gather him up and take him home....

Tammie Lee said...

The idea of normalcy can inspire deep feelings of isolation, not being good enough and so much more. Your post shares very important thoughts.
Thank you for visiting my blog.