Sometimes at work I listen to podcasts of This American Life storytelling on public radio. Every week they select a theme, and then share a few true stories that discuss that theme from different perspectives. I was listened to today’s podcast, (which is actually a rebroadcast from 2002,) and the theme was about people who are “different” and at what point they realized they were different. The host, Ira Glass, was talking with a mom and her then 7 year old son.
Her son was born with a mental disorder that presented as very angry, scary and violent episodes when he was just a toddler. Discussing her son’s behavior, she described how at 3 years old he’d talk about death and dying a lot. He’d draw pictures of black holes and talk about falling into them. She talked about specific acts of violence he’d engaged in, and the remorse and lack of understanding of his own behavior that quickly followed. To hear his mother describe his violent behavior and destructive mental state was at once shocking and heartbreaking. And then they started him on a medication, and within two days they saw a difference. By five days, he was a different child. He stopped talking about death and stopped trying to hurt small animals and talking about black holes, and instead started drawing pictures of rainbows and hearts. It was when his mother described this change that I found myself getting all choked up. Have a listen:
“…All those hearts and rainbows and bunnies that he talks about all the time, it’s not because he’s silly, It’s because he’s been through [more] pain and powerlessness…. He made an informed decision that he’s gonna be happy with the good parts of life and he’s gonna spread them around… It all came out of something very hard”
Hear the full episode here
He found his Muchness— things around him that make him feel happy and grateful for the joyful little things in life. Have you found yours?