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Her parents beamed from ear to ear as others complemented them on their new daughter, Heather. At the ripe old age of 2-months, she lay sleeping in her stroller, oblivious to the bustling world around her. Adorable, precious, cute, sweet, and beautiful were just a few of the adjectives admirers used. Then, from out of nowhere, came, “It’s going to take about 25-years for life to get back to normal, you know!”
I didn’t see the person who said this, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was just trying to be witty. If he wasn’t, then he has to be an idiot, one of those “black” versus “white” absolutists who think that life’s problems are easily solved by adhering to the good book of absolutes.
Telling her parents that it’s going to take 25-years or so to get back to normal is a bold-faced lie. Those of us who have ever welcomed a new born into our lives—and Heather’s parents obviously planned her arrival—know that normal is relative. It’s situationally specific. A new baby in the family ushers in entirely new standards of “normal” for parents who want children. We completely forget the old “normal” because we’re so enthralled with the new “normal.” It doesn’t take 25-years, either. I’d set the adjustment time to about 15-seconds after you hold the child in your arms for the first time.
Normal is a word, a dial setting on washing machines. Even at this, I have no idea what it means. We have become so desperate for answers that we make them up. We humans have an amazing propensity for reducing legitimate explanations to simplistic excuses for every quirk we encounter.
When I was a kid, people had not yet heard of attention deficit disorder. We just thought that kids who fell behind in class work were “slow.” I, for one, noticed that they got to clap the chalk dust out of the erasers at the end of the school day. They seemed to enjoy it, too. It looked like fun, not to mention a chance to break up the boredom. Oh yeah, public school kids didn’t get to clap erasers. The taxpayers paid for “specialists” to do this.
I’m not saying that attention deficit disorder is not a legitimate condition. I’m simply saying that we need to make sure we’re not using it as a convenient excuse. Just because people don’t listen to us does not mean THEY have attention deficit disorder. Maybe we’re colossal bores who repeatedly say stupid stuff. If so, Ritalin®, on their part, will do no good.
Life does not come with any guarantees. During my high school days, three classmates were killed in an automobile accident. One of them was sixteen years-old. The other two were seventeen years-old. The sixteen-year-old was driving. He was waiting to make a left-hand turn and tried jump a traffic light. Their vehicle overturned and an oncoming truck hit it square in its roof, crushing the skulls of all three of my classmates.
I was supposed to have been with them. However, my mother had grounded me at the last minute. Earlier in the day, I had flipped the bird at Father Gambit, the Prefect of Discipline, over a disagreement. Instead of killing me outright, he suspended me pending my bringing my mother—my father was dead—to discuss the situation.
I lost count of the number of people who told me that “God” must have had special plans for me or that He never sends us a cross that He knows we can’t bear. I thought that was total bull. I still do.
The fact that I was completely traumatized over my friends’ deaths didn’t seem to matter to any of them. Thankfully, about 6-weeks after the accident, one of the priests at school took me aside and talked to me. Among other things, he told me, “Son, you are alive today because you were lucky not to be in that car. They were not. God had nothing to do with it. Fate had nothing to do with it. It’s just the way life is. Be glad. Go and enjoy the rest of yours.”
I criticize the use of the term, “absolutes,” a lot. I don’t believe in them, especially as the term applies to natural law. In matters of religion, it boils down to faith. But, either way, loyalty to too many absolutes can be a problem in the long run.
We all live on the same rock traveling through space. It spins on its axis at about 1,000-miles per hour as gravitational forces whip it around the Sun at some 70,000 miles per hour. Those of us in the midst of this window of consciousness called life need to realize that we’re lucky to be along for the ride. We should make it as joyous as we can for others and ourselves, never forgetting that the very universe in which it all takes place is replete with uncertainty. The only rules that apply are those of possibilities and probabilities. We just have to keep doing the best that we can.
For the record, my mother did take me back to school and discuss my bird flipping action with Father Gambit. The two of them agreed that I already had one foot on hell’s precipice. I promised never to flip him the finger again. In return, he permitted me to come back to classes, although, once he explained to her the meaning behind “flipping the bird,” she insisted he give me some time to regain consciousness after she finished with me.
My mother is dead, now. If your mother is alive, don’t forget her. If your relationship with her is strained, unstrain it. You won’t regret it. She’ll soon be gone and the only thing that will matter is that you told her you love her. Until next week, stay safe and try to remain “normal,” if you know what I mean.
Joseph Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. Copyright laws apply to all material on this site. Send your comments. Just click here.