I've had two concussions in my life. Once, from tripping at school and slamming head first into a large metal door. Another time fr...
Other People - People = OTHER
I've had two concussions in my life. Once, from tripping at school and slamming head first into a large metal door. Another time from losing control of my bicycle while riding down a hill and flying head first into a cement garage.
Being adorably klutzy comes with a price.
Both times I heard out-of-tune radio station static in my ears and had glowy yellow vision. Every movement felt like swimming, and I got super fixated on one specific thing. Like how the curled up corner of the doormat I tripped over could take another victim. "The doormat . . . the doormat," I kept telling the school nurse. "Someone's gotta move that doormat." Or how I'd abandoned my bike when I stumbled home after the garage incident. "My bike . . . my bike . . . my bike . . ."
I told the story of my two concussions once and got told off by a guy who played football and had had something like seventeen concussions over the course of his life. "No," he said. "That's not what concussions are like." He went on to tell me what a REAL concussion is like. Ringing ears, not static-filled ones. Swirly black splotches, not glowy yellow vision. The inability to think at ALL, not that weirdly fixated on one thing reaction I had.
At the time, I didn't know how to respond. I was a pretty shy chick once upon a time ago, so telling people they're morons didn't come easily to me. But he was a moron, and I don't think it had anything to do with all the concussions. It had everything to do with him being a human person trapped in the tiny box of his own experiences.
Sometimes I pretend I've time-traveled back to the past, and I say the things I wish I would have said back then. I've time-traveled back to Grade 8 French class a LOT. Because that's when a guy I had a crush on leaned forward and made fun of my horribly out of fashion Sears clearance centre ankle boots. I really, really wish I'd turned around, smirked, and said, "I didn't know you were so fascinated by ladies fashion."
But I didn't. Because being shy means being embarrassed by other people's jerkiness. I know, it's stupid. But there you go.
What I wish I'd said to Not-A-REAL-Concussion-Guy, is that my brain isn't his brain. That my injuries weren't the same as his injuries. And to suggest that he offer an alternate term for me to call "weird crap that happened after I hit my head super hard" since he for some crazy reason thought "concussion" wasn't the right word. I also want to tell him that the world is full of people doing horrible things because they think other people should have the same brains as them, the same thoughts, beliefs, and experiences as them.
I want to tell him that this is one of the most dangerous thing humans do. Because it makes it too easy to take the "people" out of "other people," and just treat them like "other." Because that gives us permission to treat them like they are NOT people. It gives us permission to shame them, harass them, shout at them, hurt them. Because how DARE they see differently, live differently, love differently?
It's impossible to count the number of times I've heard a fellow human tell off another human because they believe something different. Even things like whether pineapple belongs on pizza or not. I have legit seen two humans get ANGRY with each other because one loves pineapple on pizza and one thinks it's vile. And it didn't occur to either of them that it is OKAY for them to like different things.
This terrifies me. Actively, chronically terrifies me. Especially when I catch those feelings creeping up on me, evil little brain ninjas trying to make me angry because another human doesn't see things how I do, and because I'm explaining my point SO DANG WELL, and they're STILL not getting it.
HOW DARE THEY not get it? How dare they not get ME?
Usually when I write a trying-to-figure-crap-out post like this one, I like to wrap it up with a pithy little thought about why things are the way they are. It makes me feel clever and safe if I can tie things up in a moral-of-the-story kind of way. But honestly, I haven't figured this one out. I don't know why being different than other people freaks us out so much. I don't know where the driving need to prove other people wrong comes from. I don't know what kind of prize we think we're going to win if we're the loudest, most obvious sort of right in the world.
What I do know is that the next time I get super pissed off at someone, I hope I can pause long enough to ask myself if I'm being like Not-A-REAL-Concussion guy, if I'm so tightly sealed up in the box of my own viewpoint, that I'm trying to smash the boxes of another PERSON.
I hope I ask myself if I'm so bloody self-centred, I'm not treating them like a person at all.
Anger is easy. Hate is easy. Blame is easy. There wouldn't be so many people choosing them if they were hard. But love is easy too, and the side-effects are so much easier to bear.
About author: Kimberly VanderHorst
Kimberly Vanderhorst wrote her first book when she was seven (it was totally awesome, but the world isn't ready for it yet), and her next when she was twenty-seven. When asked to account for the intervening decades, she likes to suggest the possibility of alien abduction with as straight a face as possible.