method of lizzy

preservations… for posterity

Expecting Adam

expectingadamI could relate to author Martha Beck from the beginning. She was a driven, accomplished young woman with an altered view of reality. She had a hard time slowing down and seeing outside the fog of her own expectations.

She was a grad student at Harvard, and she was pregnant with her second child: a boy with Down Syndrome.

What ensues is Beck’s story of coming to terms with her son’s imperfections. She admits to having been afraid of retarded people in the past, and now she carries such a person in her womb. She argues with her husband over what course of action they should take- the prospect of a retarded child is difficult for two Harvard grad students. At first her husband automatically assumes that they will abort the pregnancy. He compares this to putting down a lame horse, because horses live to run. But Beck is already attached to the baby, and she has already begun to believe that her pregnancy is something special. As the pregnancy progresses, Beck’s worldview begins to change. She is no longer living in pursuit of accomplishment or maintaining the facade that she had built around herself. A similar experience begins to happen to her husband, who is also equally driven. One day he sits in the office of a famed professor. As he looks around at the shelves of books and awards, he begins to see the professor in a new light. He is nothing but a “caged hamster running on a little treadmill” whose only goal is to read more academic journals so he can write similar articles which can then be read by other academics.

There’s a lot more to this book. But what I took from is the importance of slowing down and looking for wisdom and truth in unexpected places. Beck and her husband both aspired to be true academics, with little concern for worldly or personal matters. Together they break through the expectations of others, and more importantly, the expectations that they had of themselves. Even with several Harvard degrees under their belts, they learned their most important lessons from Adam. Beck came to the realization that “this is the part of us that makes our brief, improbable little lives worth living: the ability to reach through our own isolation and find strength, and comfort, and warmth for and in each other. This is what human beings do. This is what we live for, the way horses live to run.”

Genre: Memoir
Source: a recommendation found on a message board

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February 2, 2007 - Posted by | books

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