I’m a little retarded. There, I’ve said it. And surely dozens of readers will gasp in horror. I’ve used the most politically incorrect phrase of the decade. We shouldn’t use the word “retarded”. Apparently, whenever we use the word “retarded” it is assumed we are referring to someone with special needs, say Down’s Syndrome or autism. It couldn’t be that I am using the word correctly. It couldn’t be that when I say, “I’m retarded” what I mean is just that. But it is. And I do. The simple truth is, I’m a little retarded. The simple truth is that I am employing the world properly.
The Webster’s dictionary definition of the word “retarded” is as follows: slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress. That’s me!!! I am slow to respond to things. It takes me longer to figure stuff out than it does most people. When my father died, it took me six months to absorb the information and another decade to figure out how to mourn him. I come up with clever retorts only AFTER I hang up the phone or leave a room. And certain issues that might strike me as acceptable in the moment, sometimes stew and come to light in different ways once I’ve had a chance to consider them.
The problem is I don’t present as retarded. I present as facile and quick and highly opinionated. But the truth is, it takes me a while to formulate an opinion. Often, I am too ill informed to come to a real conclusion about things requiring more information and rumination. The opinions about which I am most passionate don’t come to me in a flash – they don’t grow organically in the fertile soil of my brain and belly. And they don’t grow – in part – because the ground is far less fertile than I’d like.
Lately, I find myself in the midst of controversy – people I care about sit passionately on either side of a political fence and I find myself floating over the middle – observing both but siding with neither. I feel somehow entirely ill-equipped to choose a side. Rarely in my life have I felt this uneducated, this uninformed, this insubstantial. Notwithstanding a day job and a sense that balance must be maintained, I fantasize about diving headlong into research that would land me in a more educated, more knowledgeable place from which I could articulate (nay = perhaps even pontificate) my point of view. When able, I grab moments here and there to scour the internet for information which I try to absorb with a critical eye. But mostly I find myself angry and frustrated that I didn’t take more responsibility for my own education as a child – that I squandered good brain cells on less important issues. And then angry again that those thoughts take up time better spent.
So if I fall short of blogspectations or go missing from the blogiverse for spells at a time, you’ll know I’m out there somewhere – searching for information to fill the gaps in my education and trying to rev up the retarded motor of my brain to a faster cycle.