WWSP's "The Alternate Boot!"

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Stuttering...

I heard an interview with Atlantic writer John Hendrickson this morning on NPR. Hendrickson wrote this article about Joe Biden's stutter, and Joe's battles trying to "overcome" stuttering. Hendrickson is also a stutterer.

The article might make you re-think some of Joe's verbal stumbles. You could listen to the way Biden speaks, and the success he has had in politics, in a new way. Maybe Joe's story is really a story of triumph and overcoming, a story of disability and adversity, and powering thru? I think that's how I will think about it going forward.

"Biden regularly characterizes stuttering as “the best thing that ever happened” to him. “Stuttering gave me an insight I don’t think I ever would have had into other people’s pain,” he says."

I did want to mention, Hendrickson's interview destroyed me this a.m. His difficulty speaking on the public airwaves was so different and jarring. Not what we usually hear on radio. It reduced me to a pool of tears. I don't exactly know why it hit me so hard.

My heart blew wide open. Can't explain it. A huge well of sadness came flooding thru my body.

I cried like a baby this a.m. I was hit in the solar plexus. It is amazing how much we all take for granted. I have no problem speaking. I come from a long line of talkers. Words roll off my tongue easily and with volume; the gift of gab. I come from a long line of gifted gabbers.

Still, when I was a child growing up, I was painfully shy, I was shy as teenager too. Growing up with the Nuns in Catholic school was a terrifying thing, and I remember having real difficulty speaking in class, reading in public. Doing any kind of public speaking in a classroom or auditorium was a world-shaking, harrowing thing. Getting words out took effort. My shyness was a great source of embarrassment. It's funny at home, and in small groups I had no trouble speaking up. I was kind of a quick talking, smart-ass.

The shyness is something I kind of put behind me.  Or let's say I put in a compartment. Taking acting classes and doing theater really helped me over that hurdle.

Early in my life, I had a friend who had a terrible stutter. Maybe that was what was resonating this morning? I don't know. I do remember kids picking on other kids. I remember seeing kids being picked out from the crowd, being picked on for faults, flaws, disabilities. It is amazing how mean human beings can be to other human beings.

Anyway, tears. They flowed out of me like a river. Crying for my fellow human beings. Why can't we all be just little bit more gentle and kind to each other? Not one of us is perfect, and maybe our flaws are really some kind of badge of honor or courage? The flaws are what make us unique, and beautiful? Maybe our suffering makes us more open and forgiving and helpful to others who suffer too?

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