Learning from Adversity

When I first started writing as a pre-teen I was already reading a lot; probably 3 – 5 books every week. That was because I had a 90-minute bus ride every morning and every evening for school. Living in the country where my nearest neighbor was several kilometers away meant, once my chores were done I had two choices for my evening: watch one of the 3 snowy television channels we got on our 14″ television or read.

Reading usually won.

All those books taught me something – I hadn’t lived enough yet to write my own books. I mean, who would be interested in the boring life of an Alberta farm kid?

This learning just goes to show that, no matter how smart you are and how much you read, you can still misinterpret things. I have since learned that everyone has a different set of experiences and others DO want to see the world through your lens, no matter what that lens looks like.

I’ve come a long way from my days on the farm and I still continue to learn. Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don’t (just like back then).

Lately, life has taken a turn. Some might say it has taken a turn for the worse. They might be right.

My mother is suffering from dementia. She has been told this but refuses to believe it. That refusal makes conversations with her difficult because she has her reality and the rest of us have ours. Everything she is told that flies in the face of her reality is a lie. It doesn’t matter who says it or how many people say the same thing.

Like I said, talking to her is difficult.

But, it is also an opportunity. We seldom think how much our minds affect our perception of reality. I know I hardly ever gave it a thought. To me, the biggest concern was, would my memory remain? Or, would I be able to retain muscle control and speech as I got older?

Those things are no problem for my mother. She is fully functional in every way except how she sees the world. She tells me with absolute confidence about conversations she has had with people I know haven’t spoken to her in months. She tells me about people who have told her they are coming to take her home who would not and could not do so.

Absolute confidence. Enough that, should I nay-say any of it, I’m lying. She doesn’t know why I would lie about such things but I am. In fact, when I show her on her own phone that no such call has ever come through, she blows it off with a, “Well, I know I spoke to them.” Physical evidence is not enough to shake her belief in any way.

Amazing to me. Scary and amazing.

But it is also insight into the human mind that I cannot ignore. I’ve got to learn from it and use it to improve my own interactions with people and the world. I’ve also got to use it in my writing. I’m not exactly sure how to bring it to life on the page yet, but I will keep trying until I get it right.



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