“Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years” – Ausonius
With the exception of some birds twittering outside it is very quiet however it is only 5:30 in the morning and for some reason I am awake. It’s grey but refreshed. It rained sometime in the night and natures water cleansed some of the earth. We need some rain to help cut back on the threat and presence of the summer forrest fires. Water can be so cleansing and represents life or renewal.
Many years ago today my mothers waters also ran and I came into this world. It was the day of my birth. May 31, Gemini through and through. I celebrate this as my “arrival day” however in true Gemini style I celebrate my birthday in another four weeks. Four weeks following my third birthday is when I was diagnosed with polio and the person that was became the person who was to be.
I have no idea who that little person that came into the world may have been if I had not contracted polio but I am well aware of the person I have become. I am very good at deductive reasoning and all I have to do is compare my personalty to that of my five siblings to recognize the differences. They are all very concrete, linear thinkers while I am very much an abstract lateral thinker.
I can’t say with a 100% certainty how much of that difference is attributable to nature versus nurture but I grew up in a hospital (nature) while my siblings grew up in a family setting (nurture). I suspect my development is partly from growing up in an environment (hospital) where there were no real definitive answers to so many issues while in the family setting it was basically yes or no. So my upbringing by so many standards (except mine) was anything but normal.
I arrived early in the morning so maybe that’s why I am up so early today. Perhaps on some sub-conscience level the sound of mother earth’s water released during the night triggered some memory of my mother’s water breaking announcing my arrival. I do know the person I started out as arrived early in the morning many years ago but the person I became was born three years later. It was almost like having been in a cocoon for three years. I could ask myself why, with three other siblings at the time, I was the only one to contract polio but that is really irrelevant. Most of my family became other polio kids in the hospital.
By the time I was 16 I had lost five peers who would never see 16 while all my siblings had to deal with was the death of a family pet. That goes a long way to the nature versus nurture developmental philosophy. Somewhere deep down I made a commitment to each friend who never got half way through their teens to squeeze a bit of fun and experience into my life for them. I believe I did that. I don’t count my life by years but by the experiences I have enjoyed and there have been not only many but also very diversified. My life experiences were never simple but always varied.
Today marks the arrival of my being into the world. I am who I am because of what I have made of myself and not because of what others expected me to be. I forgot that for sometime and tried to be something I’m not, a person defined by others. I tried that for many years which led me into a depressive state due to my inability to be what others felt I should be. I gave up control of myself to others and spend year feeling like I was holding a grenade with the pin pulled fearful to let go.
Sometime ago I threw that grenade away and have returned to being myself. Today I am back in Calgary and. again, working with families who are going through the exact same thing my mother had to deal with sixty-five years ago. Like my mother, these people’s children are being diagnosis with life changing conditions like autism. On this day of my birth I say to these parents these are still your children and that will never change. Let them be children first and let them develop according to their world, not the world you expected for them. They, like me, will find their path.
It may look different from what you had originally thought but so is their world. Don’t try to make them fit into what you believe. Use the tools available and help them create the world that works for them. My greatest joy comes from accepting the fact that I created my own world (albeit fighting all the way) but I always discovered ways to go around, over or under the barriers those “trying to help” created. The biggest disability out there is your attitude towards the nonconventional aspects of life.
The Travelled Road
We grew up believing we can turn around,
Based on the path that travels the ground,
But the path of life is a one way street,
And we must deal with the souls we meet.
There’s no turning back to change the past,
The experience we have lived forever last.
There are other souls on life’s long road,
Carrying their memories as part of their load,
We meet these souls along the way,
Some move on while others stay,
What connects us to those so near?
What divides us from those we fear?
We travel long on the road of life,
Findings our joys, surviving our strife,
Meeting new people and making new friends,
Those special few who stay till the end,
Experiences shared make us who we are,
The road of life goes on so far.
Terry Wiens – May 2006