On the days when my job is especially stressful, I sometimes stop for a walk along the Weber River on my way home from the office. In the fall, the river is lazy, the water level is low after a long dry summer, but the colors are beautiful especially when the mountain tops are dusted with an early snow…
I shed the day’s problems as I walk along. My boots pick up dust from the path and I step around the horse manure that threatens to dirty them even further. Fall along the river can restore my spirit in a way little else can. An hour here gives me an entirely different perspective on my day. I wonder if it does the same for other people, and if so, why they all aren’t out here walking with their cameras.
Do we all find joy in our lives the same way? It doesn’t seem likely to me and since I’m not clairvoyant, and so can’t look at other people’s thoughts, I have no way of knowing. I have a nagging suspicion at times that most people define their lives in a way that I don’t quite understand. I spent years trying to hide that fact, but the older I get the harder it is to conceal my peculiar thought processes because I care less what people think of me. This is reinforced every time I say something out loud that I didn’t intend to, and my friends get quiet, tilt their heads strangely and then smile half heartedly.
Some people seem to identify the chapters of their lives by their possessions, the friends they had at the time, the job they held or where they lived. My husband defined his life by the car he drove, always a Ford, always new, always shiny and stylish. Some people measure their lives by the size of their paycheck. Horse breeders title their chapters by the special foals that take their breath away. I understand this; I’ve had a few of those special foals over the years myself. I have a friend who had a child fairly late in life. Her chapters now revolve around her child’s milestones instead of her own. Another friend looks at everything with humor; I enjoy her company immensely as a result. Yet another finds beauty everywhere and in everything. Her viewpoint is unique and wonderful. She is a talented writer and her writing reflects the beauty in her heart.
Do we change how we measure our life as we get older? I know I have. There was a time when my life was measured by the achievements in my childrens’ lives, a time when the next crop of foals in the spring metered my year, and a time when my story was written by a series of losses, one after the other.
Through it all though, the one constant that measured the seasons of my life has been food. Some of my very earliest memories are of food. Sitting in my mother’s kitchen eating German pancakes, crusty fried bologna sandwiches and velvety potato salad predates my memories of my siblings’ births. I remember more about what my mother made for lunch than I do about what I learned in elementary school. I discovered that Eric Clapton could rock my world the same year I discovered blue cheese. I remember more about cheese than I do about history.
Most normal people, including my family, view food as simply the fuel that keeps their bodies healthy. I can’t understand that perspective just as they can’t understand why on a trip home there are certain restaurants I have to visit and certain foods that I have to eat. I can’t go back to South Florida for a visit without eating a Cuban sandwich from Little Havana and conch fritters from Key Largo. They can’t come to Utah to visit without spending some time skiing or shopping, what they eat is inconsequential.
I know the chapters of my life that I see in my head are different from chapters others see, but are their chapters more normal than mine? Am I wired differently than most of humankind?
I guess some of this discussion is dependent on whether or not we can even define what a normal viewpoint is. I’m not sure there is such a thing. Does that mean that everyone is abnormal? Does even wondering about the definition of normal make me abnormal? My dictionary says that normal means, “conforming to the standardard”. What’s the standard? I sometimes feel that most people know what the standard is and conform to it, and that I am one of the odd ones who just can’t. Maybe the standard is a huge secret kept close to the hearts of those in the know.
How do you delineate the chapters of your life? Has it changed over the years? Are you one of those lucky people who define life in a “normal” way? Or are you as weird as I am?
Inquiring minds want to know…