Monday, October 8, 2007

Shultz, Meloncholy and the Weather

I left the Twins cities at about 4 pm last Friday afternoon heading up to Jay Cooke State Park to meet a contingent of fools from Duluth to hike into one of the four (Silver Creek) remote backpack sites in the park along the St. Louis river. I was wearing a T-shirt when I left the muggy Twin Cities on the early October afternoon. When I stepped out of the car at the highway 210 exit to Jay Cooke to grab a burger with my co-rider Big Bill B., it was a balmy and chilly evening requiring a quick change into long underwear and several layers of clothing I wore through the remainder of the weekend camping trip with my cronies. I was still bundled up when I stepped out of my car on Sunday afternoon at my suburban sanctuary and was hit with a wave of heat and humidity from an unseasonably warm October afternoon.

On my ride into work this morning the Minnesota Public Radio weatherperson was stating that there is no normal, just variations of extremes. hmmm.

I was reading the paper this morning and stumbled across an article on the reaction of Charles Shultz's family to his latest biography portraying the Peanuts creator as a miserable and cantankerous man prone to fits of depression. The fact that Charles Shultz was prone to melancholy is not exactly a new insight into the famous cartoonist. He said as much on the 60 minutes interview I saw several years ago. Shultz used humor to assuage his melancholy and funny may make us laugh, but it is rarely happy. We laugh at absurdities and to overcome the hardships and suffering of life.

There is no normal, just variations of extremes. Look at the Colorado Rockies. They are far from the best team in baseball this year, but they are currently baseball's hottest team as they ride a streak of 17 wins out of the past 18 games. Despite the American league being the dominant league of the two, if the Rockies sweep the Diamondbacks the world series might be very competitive and exciting whether they play the favored Indians, Yankees or Red Socks. Hitters are usually either in a slump or on a tear and rarely are hitting their average over the season. Basketball players get hot or can't find their shot. Life isn't average or normal, it fluctuates between extremes.

When study statistics, the interesting pieces of data are always the anomalies. What lies within the Bell curve is never interesting. Our education system is all about getting more people to fall under that bell curve whether describing cognitive abilities, behavior, social interactions, or motor skills. Development must also fall into these trajectories based on statistical analysis and God forbid if someone finds themselves outside the range of their age group in any of the above categories. Early intervention is the catch phrase for prodding children back into the range of normal and keeping them from being in the extremes, at least on the lower end of the bell curve.

At the high range lies the gifted, and these become the prodigies who need their gifts nurtured, but often at the expense of the developments of their whole being. But, thats another story. My point here is the lower regions, because I am told my son is below the developmental average in fine motor skills and social interactions (recognition of boundaries, oppositional behavior, etc) for his age group. Obviously, I strive to be a good parent and I want what is best for my son. But, do we really know the optimum way for brains and humans to develop, and if we did, why would we assume that it would resemble anything close to normal or average. Ludwig Wittgenstein did not speak a word until he was four years old, according to his biographer Ray Monk. He would have been found to be developmentally delayed in cognitive functions by today's child psychologist, but without any outside intervention, he arguably developed into one of the greatest intellects western society has ever produced.

It all just makes me wonder what the hell is normal?


Richard said...

Nobody is normal, least of all ourselves. I'm good with number, bad with words. I have an aura around me at all times that only animals can see. You mentioned your nieghbors looking upon you oddly concerniing your dedication to your garden. Well, when I sledge-hammered my concrete driveway, I got similar looks.

Be first and be bold. Nothing else will be remembered or matter.

Go Rockies.

Andy B said...

Richard, you really are odd.

you should take that as a compliment, however.