Rendered Fat Content


Designed and executed by
Florence Elizabeth Marvin:
Crazy Quilt with Animals (1886)

" … praying for deliverance."

We each possess gifts more or less unique to us. None of us were produced with cookie cutters. We're each different and different in non-obvious ways. We look deceptively similar, which can confuse even the most patient and otherwise understanding, but we seem to be most deceptively dissimilar. Diversity, lately the hobgoblin of conservative commentators, might be inescapable and uniformity unlikely regardless of how anyone might otherwise insist. We are different.

Try to design a one-size-fits-all experience, and you'll most likely fail.
Some odd outlier will take offense. Some will consider it too extreme, and others too modest. Further, we each have our little secrets, features with which we've been blessed that we'd rather not advertise. Most of us carry an urge to fit in, an instinct to melt into crowds, and an aversion to sticking out too awfully far. We might secretly think ourselves unique, but we're loathe to advertise the fact very loudly. We can almost always take offense without raising a public fuss. We can feel disappointed without needing to disclose what happened.

Some of us, though, have been blessed in less seamless ways. Those of us with extreme sensitivities can't quietly tolerate some extremes. People like me, for instance, who feel overwhelmed by intense light and sound, cannot stick around to the end of the performance. Even with earplugs, I cannot long tolerate what I experience as thoughtless insult. The swirl confuses me, and I suddenly cannot make sense of the context.

Along with light and sound, I might most prominently possess an extreme context sensitivity, with some contexts proving absolutely intolerable to me. Rock concerts, for instance, instantly send me streaming for the exit. I find them absolutely intolerable—the same story for fireworks displays and overloud speakers. The clowns who cruise around with their car radios thumping through portable speakers bring me to ground as if I am under a mortar attack.

I'm still learning the cues. I've grown to avoid places like movie theaters where cacophonous previews might spoil even the most well-crafted feature performance. I do not quickly recover from one of those assaults and often find myself curled up in bed for much of the day following the insult. I lie there wondering why I'm so different and so damned intolerant, but I hadn't chosen my blessing. Even so, it's up to me to manage my reaction. I too often agree to attend something I know almost certainly will wound me. I agree for all the very best reasons, though I usually agree hesitantly. Sometimes, The Muse will insist, and I will assent even though I know damned well it will wound me. I'm not above believing that I might have grown out of my more extreme reactions, but these seem to be reactions, not willful responses. Under the assault, I hide behind the garage with my hands over my ears until the fireworks display finishes.

Wise people insist that we should befriend our gifts, for while they do render us different, they might also render us lovable. I sometimes think of myself as a canary in the coal mine, capable of sensing dangers others cannot smell. I tell myself a variety of stories, few very reassuring. I am learning to remain vigilant, for Philistines and others tolerate more sights and sounds than I can swallow. I dare not, for instance, ever enter a casino. I remember a layover when my flight from New Mexico got laid over in Las Vegas. I was forced to overnight in the terminal filled with slot machines spinning, flashing, and emitting the most horrible noises. I know what Hell consists of because I survived a night there once, cowering in the far back corner of a little aviation museum, hands over my ears and eyes tightly closed, praying for deliverance that never came.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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