Yes, I was born in the sixties. I was in first grade (1966) when Simon and Garfunkel’s hit “Feeling Groovy” arrived in record stores on their Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme album. Little did I know how appropriate those words “feeling groovy” would be to my life nearly 50 years later. Not because I’m skipping around my back yard picking poppies and wearing organic cotton tunics (smile)… but because “grooves” are one of the ways that physicians describe the reasons why people with Down syndrome can be highly reliable at learning repetitive tasks—and—sometimes, get “stuck” in their thinking processes. In the book Mental Wellness in Adults with Down Syndrome the authors state, “A simple definition of a groove is a set pattern or routine in one’s actions or thoughts.” They go on to say, “People with Down syndrome are particularly good at this business of having and following grooves in their daily lives. Many follow grooves with a degree of precision that would impress a fussy accountant.” “True that!,” as Tim, my 21-year-old son with Down syndrome would respond! We live with these grooves at our house every day. Cushions that can’t be on certain chairs. Bedtime routines that need to be followed “just so.” And an Elvis filming project that has been 18 months in the making.
Last week, Tim had been “feeling groovy” (again) on a specific topic. Finally, I pulled out an old record album. (Yes, I still have some. I have no idea why. I don’t even own a record player anymore!) We started talking about grooves. I had him run his fingernail across the record and feel the grooves. I showed him the spot where the record looks different as it transitions from one song to another. We talked about how, in the “olden days” when a record needle would get stuck in a groove, the only way to change it was to give it a little nudge. A hard push, and the needle would fly off the record—even scratch it. But a gentle nudge? It helped the player to move on to the next song. Tim resonated with the analogy. And now we talk about grooves. Frequently.
But you know what? The longer I’ve been involved in “disability world,” the more I think that Tim is not alone. Oh, I don’t mean his friends who have Down syndrome. I mean the rest of us. When it comes to our passions, any of us can get stuck “feeling groovy.” Maybe you talk incessantly about your kid’s therapies, or you compulsively show photos of your child’s accomplishments, or you think that everyone in the universe should be involved in (fill-in-the-blank) advocacy. Maybe your groove is disability ministry (like mine). And just as one-too-many-conversations about Elvis around our kitchen table can start to get to me, one-too-many-conversations about any other topic can frustrate others as well. Do you need a “nudge of the needle?” Do you know someone else who does? If so—don’t push—and scratch the record. Just ask God for the grace to help transition your friend—or yourself—to another song on the album.
” Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).
P.S. By the way, my oldest son, Fred, is getting married tomorrow! And Tim is the best man. I will probably talk incessantly about that for awhile. You can nudge me if you need to. Eventually. But in the meantime, I know I will be “feeling groovy” about Fred and Cecelia’s wedding! Just sayin’.