Last year on this date, June 28, I wrote about waking to an odd sensation, as if my body was vibrating. The year before, on the same day—my late wife’s birthday—I expressed confidence she would have been happy for me as I go about rebuilding my life. That strange sense I wrote about last year was, I suspect, a physical manifestation of grief. Though I remain convinced my late wife would be pleased for me, the grief remains with me, though usually as an undercurrent. Hidden by the background noise of day-to-day life. What I chose not write about on those days was the fact that my grief at her loss was sometimes almost overwhelming. It sometimes still is. Certain events—anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, reminders of our travels, and other memories—trigger waves of grief and regret.
I feel fortunate—and I am beyond extremely grateful—for mi novia. Yet my ongoing grief for my late wife’s loss is accompanied by guilt that I am unable to compartmentalize my life enough to keep grief from intruding on that love and gratitude. If I could sleep my way through these days, I would. Or if I could deal with these conflicting and perhaps irrational feelings by simply confronting them, I would. But I doubt I will ever be able to glide past or through them. I imagine they always will be there, suddenly taking my breath away and causing me to try to steady myself against a storm of emotion. I suppose I always will need to try to shake off the occasional return of a period of emotional disarray.
Despite my desire to “calm the waters,” I never want to lose the cherished memories of the more than forty-four years I shared with someone I loved deeply. If grief is the price I pay for those memories, so be it. I know mi novia understands my feelings and my dilemma. And I am grateful for that, as well.
“Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling.” So says the Mayo Clinic. And so almost everyone who gives the matter any thought believes. But is it possible we are all wrong? Is it possible the behaviors we describe as schizophrenic are simply disturbing (to the rest of us) manifestations of a different—but not necessarily “abnormal”—interpretation of reality? The question is not rhetorical. It is entirely possible, I think, that modern society is so attached to “normal” behaviors that virtually any divergence from normalcy is regarded as deviant and, therefore, potentially dangerous. While behaviors that put at risk the individual and/or others, those behaviors are not necessarily “bad” by their very existence; they are “bad” because we choose to label them as such. Mental illness may not always be illness; it simply may be an expression of an alternate perspective, one that the majority of people do not share. The argument may be a matter of semantics. And in most cases, it probably is. But semantic differences may represent different perspectives; different ways of looking at the world.
We judge people whose perspectives deviate from “normal.” We label them and, in general, tend to fear them. Rightfully so, in many cases. But I think we tend to assume world views that differ from our own are weird, aberrant…wrong. We assume ours are the proper, correct, true, actual, real-world perspectives. Even, sometimes, when ours are demonstrably wrong. If we leave no room for possibilities outside our own myopic field of vision, we risk overlooking revelatory conceptions of reality. Labeling someone as “crazy” or “deviant” or “mentally ill” shuts the door to all manner of possibilities. There was a time (and that time, unfortunately, too often continues to be “now”) when homosexuality was considered “deviant” and/or “bad” by the majority. Assertions that Earth was not the center of the universe were once labeled heretical, or worse. Dozens, probably hundreds, of other examples of deviance that are now recognized as variations along the spectrum of “normal” exist.
The potential desirability of “deviance” in some cases is framed quite nicely in the lyrics of Billy Joel’s song, You May Be Right: “You may be right, I may be crazy, but it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for.” Like so many other aspects of life, normalcy and its opposite sometimes are merely different places along an almost endless spectrum.
There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.
~ Washington Irving ~
My appointment to explore and, I hope, correct the problems with my car is scheduled for just after mid-day. I am banking on the likelihood that it is safe to drive the vehicle, despite the multiple warning lights on the dash and the unusual sound I hear (or feel) as I drive. I took the car to a local garage last week, assuming the issue could be identified and fixed, but I was told I should take it to the dealer to deal with the matter, which had been the subject of a technical services bulletin a few years ago. Depending on what is involved in diagnosing and correcting the problem, and on the availability of a “loaner” car, I may (or may not) need mi novia to fetch me from Little Rock this afternoon. The wisdom of buying a car brand for which the closest dealer is fifty miles away (or more) is open to question. I need to remember to take my phone charger with me; if I have to sit in the service department waiting room for long, my feeble smart-phone may not be able to cope with the demands I place on it, without support from an electrical outlet.
The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.
~ Aristotle ~
But if he bears it with agitation or instability, is he a man of low and cowardly temper?
I’ve been up since 3. It’s now after 6. I suspect I later will regret giving in to insomnia. But I will get over it. Tonight, I will go to bed at a reasonable hour and will, I hope, sleep all night long…until at least 4 or 5. Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. I’d settle for healthy and wise. Just healthy would be acceptable. I think I’ll go sit on the deck for a bit now and commune with the hummingbirds and woodpeckers and a tufted titmouse or two. And remember.