From the perspective of a girl with ADD/I. (Inattentive, not hyperactive. Prone to daydreaming, not taking over the show.)
*For the farmers out there: I am not a doctor, these are just my thoughts. (The hunters knew that instinctively and that was good enough for them.) (You’ll get that after you read this post, of course.)
I have ADD. Sometimes I feel the need to explain myself. You know, if somebody gives me that look and I get that feeling that maybe they think I’m a little off.
I’m happy to be content in my own world, doing things my own way. When something inspires me, it’s all I want to do. They say Attention Deficit, but really my attention is only deficient in areas that don’t spark my interest. But the good news is that I have noticed that as I get older, I’m interested in a LOT more than I used to be. Maybe line upon line?
I have ADD and I have kids with ADD. One time my pediatrician gave me the parable of the farmer vs. the hunter. I will relay it to you here in my own words:
Long ago, there were two ways a man could provide food for his family.
One way was to become a farmer. A farmer takes pride in his crop. He knows what seeds he will plant and plans ahead for the next year. He prepares his soil. He readies his fields. On the right day, he starts sowing and his seeds are set in long, straight lines. He works with intent and follows his plan closely as he waters his crop every day. Watching the crop grow and stretch toward the sun is satisfying and rewarding and he finds beauty in the harvest of his symmetrical creation.
The other way a man can provide food for his family is to become a hunter. When a hunter is ready, he makes his way to the woods and acts on instinct. There is no exact routine to follow, so he takes his cues from the things he sees and feels around him. He uses his senses and his intuition. He understands the way the animals move and what drives them. He watches for their tracks and finds food and water sources. He knows when he is getting closer and the exhilaration of all things coming together feels right. The reward of meat to feed his family is satisfying and his love and appreciation for nature move him.
Both are right. Neither is wrong.
Perhaps a farmer would get frustrated not to have a plan. It might make him uncomfortable. Maybe he would worry that if he hasn’t planned ahead then he isn’t being responsible and if there isn’t a plan, then how can his family rely on him to provide? It would cause anxiety and be unsettling to live life on a whim.
Most likely a hunter would feel weighed down by a sense of monotony at having to abide by the strict guidelines of the farmer’s life. There would be an underlying restlessness because he is not relying on his instinct. There is nothing to inspire his spirit in straight lines and no surprises. Watering the same plot of land every day with nothing varying might feel oppressive and unnatural.
I tell my children that there is nothing wrong with them. Their brains are perfect. They are smart. They are just trying to fit into something that doesn’t come naturally to them. They are hunters living in a farmer’s society.
It can be harsh and depressing. It can make you wonder what is wrong with you—everyone else seems content and thriving. So why does it feel so incredibly difficult to adhere to a strict schedule of school and learning, a place where rules and regulations take precedence over inspiration and intuition? Because it is not natural for everyone to live like that.
Sometimes, while living in a farmer’s society, I behave like a hunter. When I get that look I want to say, “Hey, I’m a hunter, okay?” But instead I say apologetically, “I have ADD.”
Since starting my blog way back when, I have been open about my experience with ADD. In the past couple years I have had a surprising amount of people email/call/comment/etc to ask me questions about it and see if they can help themselves or understand someone they love a little better. I have a lot to say about it! So as requested, here is the first of a series of posts from my perspective. Every body is different, so my experience won’t be everyone’s experience, but I guess it’s my attempt to kick the stereotypes of ADD out the door and help the good peeps be a little more understanding of those of us that endure its daily battles. If you have any specific questions that you would like to hear my perspective on, feel free to leave them in the comments or email me—I’d be happy to oblige.