Do you mind if I get personal?
I didn’t think so.
The people I feel the closest to have some sort of “skeleton” in the closet. Life has thrown them a few curve balls. Sometimes they ducked and sometimes they got socked in the kisser.
They rarely bring up the “skeleton” but you know it’s there. It’s not all lah-dee-dah if you know what I mean. They’ve been hurt but it made them stronger and more resilient. I know because I have a “skeleton” in my closet.
When I was 15, I came down with meningitis. For days, I had a fever of 106 degrees or higher. I was away from home so I didn’t have access to a doctor or the hospital. By the time the fever broke, my hearing had been damaged. My life had changed and now it was up to me to figure out how to create a well-lived life with a hearing impairment. As the good doctor would say “Everyone is impaired. It’s just that yours is evident.” He’s on the money, that’s for sure.
Impairments come in all shapes and sizes. I have a relative who is a monologist…she never takes a breath. Her soliloquies go on and on till you’re nearly comatose. Her inability to listen is an impairment. It prevents her from hearing people’s words and their concerns, their loves, and their losses. Unlike someone who listens with full-presence, my relative is impaired by her self-absorption and/or fear of silence. It’s a pity, too, because she has a really cool beach house with lots of bedrooms.
I was thinking about pearls this morning. Not because I wanted to wear them but because they’re a perfect metaphor for transcendence. Do you know how pearls are formed? When a foreign substance slips into the oyster, it irritates the shell and its organ. From that irritation a beautiful pearl is formed.
When I think about my hearing loss, I think about a pearl. The meningitis was the foreign substance that slipped into my shell and caused pain and havoc. But unless there’s irritation, the pearl doesn’t form.
I wish things had been different. I wish life had not thrown me a curve ball. But I hope I’m a pearl — not a perfect pearl — but at least a cultured pearl.