As an English teacher, I had to continually remind my students that for every rule in spelling, grammar, and usage, there will be an exception. “I before E, except after C…” Then I’d need to add that even exceptions have exceptions – think “weird!” I’d explain that with our language, the rules can guide us, but we need to expect to except at all times. Look at punctuation – we use an apostrophe to signal possession. Ooops—not for “its,” though. Young minds are fairly pliant, so they could retain these many exceptions to rules.
As an MS survivor, I’m also aware of exceptions! The first is that the normality* rule (expectedness as a consequence of being usual or regular or common) which should be how I’m living. Unfortunately, I fall into the exception to that rule. Despite the fact that I expect myself to be regular or common, I’m far from that status. If someone were to walk into this room right now, and having never met me before, he/she would consider me to be normal. (All right, the walker over in the corner might give it away!!) But, if I began to walk or if I tried to use my right hand, I’d be discovered as a fraud. That sense of normalcy* would disappear. I’d become the exception to that rule, and I’d be re-labeled as a disabled person.
Does that bother me? Do I strive to escape being an exception? Do I even hide myself from it? Guilty on all counts. While most of us like to be unique, and we enjoy being singled out as a talented person, don’t we really long for the adulation to be given for normal feats? Who among us wants to be singled out because of our wonky walk, our compromised brain, or our never-ending fatigue? Wouldn’t we prefer to be honored instead for the way we can write (I think of several bloggers here,) or the lovely photos we take (again some great blogs,) or our superb artwork (ms bloggers, too)? Those accomplishments should be what stand out! The fact that people see our handicaps first, just shows that we are exceptions to the rule.
Therefore, I now decree that we are not exceptions; rather, we are exceptional!
I wanted to add another e word here: ebullient. It means exuberant, and would you believe it was one of my students’ vocabulary words? Who uses such a word? I told them that same thing: several of the words they’d learn would rarely, if ever, be used! Well, my pranksters set out to prove me wrong. Several of them at the field hockey game created a cheer using the word ‘ebullient!’ The parents couldn’t wait to tell me, and of course I was thrilled. The prior chant had been, “Harass them, harass them! Make them relinquish the ball!” Now they could yell, “We are ebullient!” I’m sure the other team was impressed. [wink, wink!]
*normality and normalcy – Warren Harding used the word ‘normalcy’ as a campaign tactic, and he was accused of making up the word. His critics said the correct word was ‘normality.’ Now we use them both interchangeably and both are considered correct!