The Taxidermist’s Youngest
My father was the best taxidermist in Troup County, Georgia. I grew up wandering in the woods, going to church, and smelling dead animals in various states of undress. And writing.
Writing is my form of taxidermy. I write in an attempt to make living, writhing ideas hold still and hold together. A friend recently lost her sister to bipolar disorder, and she quoted her sister as saying “when I am manic, everything is significant and connected in a sacred way. When I am down, nothing is meaningful or connected.” This is how I feel too. I am not bipolar, but I am some brand of non-neurotypical, and I guess this explains why so many of my favorite people are also non-neurotypical.
I am a bit skeptical of my diagnosis of ADD. (I am kind of skeptical of such labels in general) A stereotypical sufferer of ADD acts without thinking. I generally think without acting, because I am paralyzed by choice. I lack normal pruning skills. Chess is impossible for me; when other people see the next logical move, I see 300 billion possible moves, and become paralyzed by indecision. Some categories that are obvious to others are invisible to me, and yet I constantly observe connections and categories that are indispensible to some and invisible to others. My viewpoint is inconstant; it sort of shifts to meet whoever is around. Growing up I beat myself up for being gullible and wishy-washy. If a person is explaining his or her viewpoint, no matter how crazy it seems, I cannot dismiss it. If it doesn’t make sense, I have to keep asking questions until I understand the place that person is standing that makes it seem sensical to him or her. This is not by choice; I am not tooting any kind of horn. I am simply unable to throw anybody’s point of view into a trash can marked unnecessary, as other people seem to have no trouble doing. As you may imagine, this makes life rather difficult at times. It also makes my perspective rather unusual.
I have maintained two facebook pages for nearly a decade. I created this situation to avoid conflict between my conservative family and my liberal friends. Regularly reading the same news items presented radically differently on my two facebook pages has shown me how large the gulf between the left and the right is perceived to be. The volume of demonizing, fearmongering click-based revenue-driven “news” I saw on the conservative page during Obama’s presidency abruptly migrated to the liberal page after November 2016, leaving mostly babies, dogs, dinners, and chirping crickets on my conservative page. Having grown up in the red, religious rural south, and having spent most of my adult life with blue academics, I know beautiful, loving, holy, moral people in both of these worlds. The hatred slung between the two groups is eating me alive, and much of it is due to root level misunderstanding, as well as the negative caricaturing based on the most extreme examples on either side. My main hope for this blog is to illustrate how decent most humans can be if there is an environment of safety and trust for them to exist in.
I feel that the pattern of existence is as wide and limitless as the heavens, and that each person has their own small, special lens he or she uses to interpret pieces of the tapestry. I feel that we must share our lenses as much as possible so that we may see more of the big picture. Without many lenses to help us understand, the cognitive dissonances become scary and divisive. My blog is an attempt to share my lens with whoever is interested in my perspective, and an invitation to share yours.
The band Over The Rhine puts it beautifully in their song “All my favorite people are broken”;
Orphaned believers, skeptical dreamers
You can stay right here
You don’t have to go