I go to a self-improvement style meetup one town over near where I grew up (so it has nostalgic value too) every two weeks, and have for the past year and a half. It's a very nice group of people and I feel very fondly towards the facilitator. At the meetup tonight, one thing we talked about was "I'm right where I need to be," and I tried to imagine a way of living where I could be okay with existing in whatever physical or mental state I was in... And find a reason behind it, know that even though it just seems like it's mindless unnecessary suffering, that actually, there's a reason behind it.
If I look back at my life over the last 10 years or so, I can see times where I thought I was just mindlessly suffering, but those times ended up being a great source of inspiration and growth when looked upon with the viewpoint of a few years. In fact, I've said this before, but had I never had to move around the country for several years to survive, I wouldn't be anywhere near the (mostly) well-rounded, intelligent person I am now - I wouldn't have PERSPECTIVE, and perspective is what I have always desired more than anything. I wouldn't have a sense of the world around me. I wouldn't have a sense that people can live in so many different ways and that's okay. I wouldn't have any self-esteem or confidence.
So, I ask myself, what am I preparing myself to do or be now, during this time of partial suffering and partial growth? What will I see when I look back on it in a few years that I can't see now because I'm too close to it? How will I grow? Maybe I am "right where I need to be." Maybe there is a reason. Maybe it is okay to simply exist sometimes and not have to constantly be worrying about matching my life up to an idea in my head. In fact, if there is one theme in the meeting tonight, it was that life should not be lived trying to match it up to an idea in your head. It should be lived as it is.
One guy at the meeting had had six or seven different careers - from doctor to stock market to flight attendant to psychotherapist. He's nearly 70 with a great sense of energy. He just went where life took him. One girl was talking about how the ocean brings things to us and takes things back, both good and bad - trash and a beautiful shell in the same wave, and we need to accept it all. She said she learned acceptance from the ocean.
In this book I'm reading (The Journal of Best Practices by David Finch, my second time reading it) he talks about how his wife tried to teach him how to go with the flow. He said "But you won't accomplish anything that way. " She said , "But life throws punches and if you don't go with the flow, you will be knocked down, and then you definitely won't accomplish anything."
All good food for thought in a very inspiring meeting with 14 people - 6 men and 6 women, no wait, one guy came late, so it must have been 7 men which means it's the first time in history there were more guys than women! - and a very nice exchange of ideas. And now I want to listen to some Gary Allan And hope I can keep these ideas in my head for longer than the time it takes to type them up! Also, today I went to the Jewish History museum. It was beautiful. They said I can volunteer there to do some research and also do a presentation on autism, so I am excited about that!
If you like this, please be sure to visit my other website, Accepting Asperger's. A lot of my older writing is stored here, including an editorial I once wrote for the Baltimore Sun. Click here to see it: Accepting Asperger's.
What's it really like to be a 20 something with Asperger's? On this blog, I hope to explore that question. But this blog is not just limited to an audience of people in their 20s - this is for anyone who ever wanted to know anything about autism. I plan to delve into the nature and experience of autism, and examine it from as many angles as possible. I would like to start a conversation between people with Asperger's or autism, parents of kids with autism spectrum disorders, and anyone who just wants to know more. Let's explore what autism means, together.
My goal is to start a discussion on and build a community of people affected by autism - parents and adults with ASD - so feel free to leave your two cents in the comments section of any post. If you're too shy for that, however, or want to speak to me personally, you may feel free to email me at KGoldfie@gmail.com.
Asperger's Book for Sale
Common Scents: Adventures with Autism and Chemical Sensitivity" is the story of a young woman's search for physical and emotional safety as she journeys through the mountains of the Cascades, small coastal towns on the Oregon coast, and out-of the-way towns in upstate New York. Along the way, she experiences things she would never have dreamed possible had she stayed in her Maine hometown, and begins to learn the power of human connection.
Common Scents is the story of the last three years of my life. It gives a gripping view of what it is like to experience the world as someone on the autistic spectrum, and some would say, is an entertaining travel story as well. Because of chemical sensitivities, I engaged on a three year journey for a place I could call home.
Comments from readers:
"The Asperger's element is remarkable. I feel that I understand my son better, so much better. I laughed at this part.... because I've stared at my son in the same way for the same thing." - mother of an Asperger's kid
"Your writing style is SO engaging and interesting. It brings me right into the subject and I always experience a little emotional punch towards the end. In other words, this is the third time I've teared-up reading your work. Kate, you've highlighted ALL the problems with how social skills are usually taught." - mother of ASD kid
"I stayed up entirely too late reading the first 14 pages. I can relate to so much of what you write. I really think you are expressing the true experience with MCS and autism in words that convey the experience." person with chemical sensitivity (MCS)
"Absolutely interesting, insightful and witty. You've blended together your three themes beautifully (Asperger's, MCS and travelling). It seems seamless."