Thursday, October 25, 2012

When I was 12 I decided I wasn't normal

Bell Curve of Intelligence
I was probably about eleven when I realized I wasn't normal.  Before that time I thought it was normal to not be able to breathe when other people were having fun; to have to remember your medicine before leaving the house; to have to pace yourself when playing sports or otherwise doing things normal kids do, like playing in tents made of old, dusty blankets stored in the dusty basement.

When I did these normal things, I felt abnormal.  My chest would burn, my chin itch, and my breath, well, my breath wasn't very good.  To get air in I had to suck it in, and before I was twelve I thought this was normal.  Before I was twelve I didn't understand why everyone else was having fun at grandma and grandpas house and I wasn't.  At twelve I realized I couldn't roller skate in the basement, and I realized I couldn't, or shouldn't, sleep in the bed by the fireplace in the same room my grandpa slept in. When I was twelve I realized I couldn't play football -- or shouldn't, because I did -- on Thanksgiving day when the snow was blowing and so too was smoke from the wood stove billowing out the chimney.  Yes, while all these things were normal, they made me not be able to breathe, which was, I decided when I was twelve, not normal.

It was also when I was 12 I decided I had a special gift that no one else had, a gift that made me special, and a gift I must never share with anyone.  I can share the product of the gift, yet I can never share the gift.  You see, if you are gifted, if you have a gift that makes you abnormal, you share it at your own risk.  When you share it with others, when you tell them your secret, you will be treated as a quack.  Yet I wasn't a quack, and I'm still not a quack.  Although, I contest, I am not normal (although, and this is a discussion for a later post, normal is also subjective).  

Since most people are normal, I decided I wasn't able to communicate with them my gift.  You see, normal people think of normal things.  Normal people have no incentive to think about deeper, inert things.  Normal people have no incentive to think about how other people feel.  Normal people aren't able to receive telepathic messages from other people.  Normal people have no need to think about any one else but themselves and their family and their survival.  Yet when you have a disease like asthma, you're forced to live different and think different.  You are forced to make changes.  

So I had a gift, and the gift was born out of my asthma.  You see, because I had asthma, and because I was not normal as noted above, I was forced to live my life like abnormal people life their lives.  I, thus, was forced to make changes.  I had to stay inside when the other guys were playing, or hunting, or camping, or what guys do.  I was forced to stay inside and read and think.  I was forced to reach into a deeper part of my mind.  

And anyone who has asthma knows, it's nearly impossible to get people who don't have your disease to understand what it's like to live with a disease.  Even to this day, even though my dad sat with me hundreds of hours in hospital rooms watching me suffer with asthma, he still has no clue that I am forced to be different.  Even though I've told him a thousand times the past year -- 20 years after the last time he sat in an ER room with me -- that I cannot go to hunting camp anymore because there are too many allergens out there, he still keeps begging me to go.  He is normal, and he is able to have fun out there without having to worry about his asthma (do I have my inhaler? do I have a clean pillow case? how will I get home if I can't breathe, etc.).  So he has no clue what it's like when you're not normal.  

I think the best way of describing what it's like to be abnormal is to describe the bell curve of intelligence.  Now, I'm not implying I'm intelligent the way you're thinking, no I do not have a 200 IQ.  No I'm not any smarter, per se, than you are.  Because I don't see intelligence that way.  I believe that we are all smart in our own way.  While you may have the highest IQ in the world, you may not be intelligent when it comes to asthma, or you may be clueless how to write.  You see, we all have a different level of intelligence.  My gift is my ability to think of things, and to write.  You may find this awkward me saying this, but I cannot communicate by words the way I communicate here.  Rush Limbaugh is a good verbal communicator, and in that way he's word smart.  I'm writing smart.  So that's what I mean.  

So let me describe this bell curve.  You take the people at the top who have the highest IQs, and you take those on the bottom with the lowest IQs, and you toss them out.  These we consider rare IQ scores, or abnormally gifted and abnormally stupid people.  Or, perhaps these scores were errors.  Either way, you toss them out.  That gives us a means.  So by using this bell curve, I can describe what I'm discussing in this post.  No, I do not have a high IQ. But, if you use this curve to show asthma intelligence, or writing intelligence, then you can see what I'm describing.  Most people I know have no clue what I'm talking about when I'm talking about asthma.  Most people I talk to are ignorant about asthma.  So, in this way, I MUST be in the top half of the bell curve that was tossed out.  I say this because there has to be a mean, and if I'm in the mean and everyone else in the mean is stupid, then there would be no mean.  So that can't be so, so I MUST be in the top of the bell curve.  

When it comes to gossip intelligence, or people smarts, I'd be in the bottom portion of the bell curve.  I'm not people smart at all.  So I'm gifted.  And most of you guys reading this probably think I'm nuts, that I'm a quack for thinking this way.  Or, you probably think I'm being arrogant.  That's not the case either.  I do, however, have an uncanny interest in history, respiratory therapy, philosophy, writing, and politics.  I find few people enjoy the same interests.  I'm abnormal.  And when you're abnormal living in a world with normal people, you just keep your mouth shut about it, although I'm breaking that rule here.  Yet it was my asthma that made me this way.  So perhaps you can see why I like to tell people asthma was a gift from God.  If it weren't for my asthma I wouldn't have this gift, and you wouldn't know me.

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