Nothing Stays the Same
Change is constant. And yet…
And yet, when I receive Christmas cards and yearly catch-up letters, I’m struck by one thing: different date, same sentiment.
Families have distinct ways of being. The skiing family continues to ski; the homebodies love their books and cozy nooks; the adventurers have booked intrepid travel. There is a rhythm, a branding to each correspondence, and I jokingly say that I could write their letters for them. I’m familiar with their style. Same essence, different date.
There’s a 180 and it is this: some things never change. I like both sides of the coin. The first, I find a thrill; the second, a comfort.
Let’s start with what thrills me.
I like learning, mostly, new ways to think about old topics. Take for example “different.” In the context of autism, different is both the protagonist and the antagonist.
“How will Erik grapple with “different”? Because he is going to keep hearing that word. Different. Different and just. “Erik, you’re just wired in a . . . different way. Erik, you see the world differently, that’s all. You’re not less, just different.” Different. Different. Different. It’s all about that word, and alongside autism and diagnosis, it’s here to stay. How will my son feel about different? About all three words? And do I want to puncture his happy little being with these barbs, these heavyweights?”What’s Not Allowed? pp. 88-89
Grappling with different has consumed me on this autism journey. Like a persistent dog with a ball, different is dropped at my feet, and I’m expected to do something with it. Years ago, I hurled it, willing it far away. Not now. Reframe and reflection deliver beauties like this:
“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”Coco Chanel
“Difference is what we have in common.”(Pearson Airport, Toronto)
“Think different.”Steve Jobs
All told, we are changed in profound ways.
Add to the mix the thinking of Australian sociologist, Judy Singer, who coined this word in 1998: neurodiversity. All of a sudden, a different wiring system and a different lens on the world made sense, had worth, and had a name. Neurodiverse. Words matter.
And then, along came another term, meant to represent the rest of us: neurotypical. We threw that around for years without much thought. Neurotypical and neurodiverse: us and them. Till someone thought about it and said, “Wait a minute… Is there such thing as “typical” among the neurotypical? Who of us is typical? And who would want to be?”
The thing is, of course, is that we are all different, as diverse in our perspectives and thoughts as our fingerprints.
I read all of that one day not long ago with mounting interest. Thrilled to read it, in fact. And that brings me back to change. It can be exhilarating and refreshing, and we need it. Like good cop, bad cop, clarity around word choice is good change. And it is welcome.
Now to the comforting flip-side: nothing changes. And to the topic of Christmas cards and letters, I reread our family collection, and I am struck by what has remained the same through twenty-eight years of change. There is quirk and curiosity, reframe and relocation. There is a pattern.
As for the yearly photos? A string of costumes and one-liners, an attempt to capture the year and its essence: lobsters in Nova Scotia, lederhosen in Germany…Teletubbies when the kids were toddlers.
Our 2021 theme is inspired by a trip to the cottage—north of Toronto—in the summer and each of us hanging out, doing our own thing. Eureka! Difference binds us.
We Stand Apart, Together
This year the light is shone on celebrating our diverse perspectives and what each of us contributes to the whole.
And in light of memoir editing and proofreading throughout 2020, clauses ‘r us.
🎄 Happy Holidays from me and my family, independent clauses, five.
All the best in 2022 as you celebrate your collective clauses…
Cheers, Teresa 😊