Sunday, March 18, 2012

Unwanted Wisdom

For over three years now, people have felt compelled to tell me that there is wisdom to be gleaned from life's worst experiences.  I have been hard pressed to imagine how that might be.

A few weeks ago, I had coffee with a gentleman who lost a son to suicide six months ago.  Mostly I listened, but from time to time I reassured him that things he had said or thought or done during the previous six months have been said and thought and done by most of us.

My daughter, who is finishing her master's degree in social work, advised me that what I was doing has a name: it's called "normalizing."

I realized that evening that, despite my best efforts to the contrary, I have indeed acquired a few miniscule bits of wisdom.  I know, for example, that words and thoughts and activities that five years ago I might have viewed as fairly demented are, in fact, entirely normal.  Well, not in the usual course of things.  But in the un-usual streams in which some of us swim: quite normal, indeed.

I suppose that's something.  At least I feel no compulsion to tell a heartbroken parent . . .  hmmm . . .  much of anything at all.