Saturday, May 21, 2011

movie review + thoughts on challenges

I watched the Temple Grandin movie tonight. For those unfamiliar, Temple Grandin is a woman who has autism and when she was a child, the standard "treatment" for autism was institutionalism. It was also thought to be caused by an unloving/unresponsive mother during some critical phase of the child's early development. (Hell, compared to that, society blaming it on vaccines for a few years seems like a definite improvement.) Anyways, she has gone on to get a Masters and PhD and has revolutionized (not an exaggeration) the handling/care of livestock in the United States. Because of her autism, she sees in pictures and is uniquely able to see her surroundings as animals see them (particularly highly visually sensitive prey animals, like cows). It may seem like a simple or trivial thing, but I appreciated how the movie made the point that, in Temple's words "Nature is cruel, but we don't have to be." Even though the ending point for the cows is the same (they'll be killed and eaten), they don't have to feel fear, confusion or pain.

Her revolutionary ideas were ridiculed at first even when they had been demonstrated to work because they were new and upset the status quo. A thought I had while watching the scene of the demonstration of the very calm "cow dip" (which is when cows swim through a bath of stuff that kills parasites and whatnot) is that it made me wonder if perhaps God mightn't have looked down and seen how the cows were being treated and thought, "Those children of mine can do better than that. It isn't that they are cruel, they just don't see it." (I'm operating under the assumption that God approves of meat eating, at least to some extent, which I think he does even if I don't choose to consume it myself) And then he decided to send someone down who could see it. But in order to see it, she'd have to be different, because if she were "normal," she couldn't see it. Maybe she even would have signed up for that lot, given the option.

I have such a hard time going through challenges and having faith that I will come out on the other side of the challenge intact, let alone improved. I try so desperately to hold on to what I have now, what seems so important, that I am afraid my hands will still be clenched so that I'll miss them even if (when?) the blessings do begin to pour out upon me. I am sure that God looks down on me and wishes I could just see, or even just imagine, the brightness of life ahead of me. But I get so afraid. The uncertainty of the unknown future feels like all consuming darkness. I so desperately want a plan of some sort, even if it is a poor one, or unlikely to pan out. I really am trying to wrap my mind and heart around the concept of "..all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.." But I pretty much stink at it.

Anyways, the point is, for Temple Grandin, "all these things" were the ridicule and the difficulties she has experienced going through life being different - avoiding human touch, not reading social cues, poor interpersonal skills. They have definitely given her experience, and have not only been for her good, but have improved others lives as well. (And not just the cows...her improvements have greatly improved the lives of those who handle the animals.) It helps to think that our challenges have purpose, even if only to show us our weaknesses so we can be gradually strengthened as we go through life. Annoyingly, I can point to the times in my life when it has been really hard as the times when I have experienced the most pronounced growth. Hmph.

The best way out is always through.
Robert Frost

Saturday, May 14, 2011

so awesome!

So a couple of years ago we found out that our backyard neighbor is the son of my dad's best friend (now deceased) from childhood. This neighbor sent me the following pictures the other day, and I think they are the youngest I've ever seen of my dad. They make me so happy. There is just something neat about being able to see your parents as children and realize they are essentially the same person they were then, even though they've been educated and "roughed up" a bit over the years. My dad turns 76 this summer.