Springingtiger's Blog


Missing People

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I recently commented that I make it a principle not to miss people. I see very little point in missing people, It serves no useful purpose. However it should not be assumed that I do not remember people fondly after they have left my life, but memory is valuable, what most people think of as “missing” can be debilitating.

I may use the term, “missing”, but when I do so I generally mean, “think of often”. In fact the only person who really comes into that category is my Father in law, Om Prakash Bakshi, and that is to some extent because we have his photo in our living room. He was a lot of fun and probably had the best grasp of advaita of anyone I have known. He eventually forgave me for marrying his daughter and became a very good friend. He came to enlightenment late in life, but lived his final years in childlike joy, yet with a wisdom much appreciated by those navigating between the factional rivalries of the old people’s centre on whose committee he sat. He was extremely intelligent, funny and good to have around.

It is appropriate to miss people when first they leave one’s life, although I tend not to, because of the changes to one’s routine and daily expectations the departure occasions. What is, in my opinion, inappropriate is to be, some months later, carrying a debilitating grief. On reflection grief is inappropriate and as useless as regret as an emotion (are there any useful negative emotions?). Personally I feel that the appropriate reaction to someone’s departure from one’s life is to make appropriate adjustments for their departure and move on with a new schedule. Having said that, my Saturdays are in some confusion because Strictly Come Dancing has finished and Doctor Who has not yet returned; I really don’t want to adopt a new schedule what I know I’m just going to have to change it again!

I suppose some people will say that there is a difference between the absence of a person and that of a television program, but I don’t see why. Other people, like television programs, are external to my body and perceived through the same senses and cognitive processes. I have known Doctor Who for fifty years which is far longer than anyone I define as a friend, and I am told my definition is less exacting than most humans. It seems only logical that the absence of Doctor Who should affect me more than an ordinary person, I have known him longer and seen him more often and more regularly than anyone else.

I do go to funerals, I even left flowers when Nelson Mandela died, as a gesture of respect, but I find it hard to get to grips with some of the public outpouring of grief when celebrities die. I did not know Mandela, but he and apartheid defined a large period of my life. I don’t miss apartheid, I don’t miss Mandela, I think of him rarely, but I thank him for his inspiration. There are many I remember, many with affection, but none I think I miss in the usual sense of the word. Indeed when I look back over my life and I realise how many people I have known have died, and when I add them to the people whom I have not personally known but who have impacted my life, I am relieved I don’t miss them, if have little time not energy for more important things.



Bookends
November 21, 2013, 09:42
Filed under: autism, disability, NLP, Parenting, social media | Tags: , , , ,

Part of the purpose of attendiing NLP Conference, and one of its greatest pleasures,  is  meeting old friends. So important is the opportunity for meeting friends that Michael Hall said to me that it should be part of the marketing. Of course as well as meeting old friends,  conference provides an opportunity to meet new people and share ideas, perhaps to start new business partnerships. For me personally, one of the high spots of any NLP conference is when Neelam and I get together with our friend Jill for a final coffee and chat at the very end; we’ve done it so many times we consider it a tradition.

By extending our trip beyond the conference,  Neelam and I have also managed to arrange to meet up with friends and family. The time since we last met up with Conrad may be counted in decades rather than years. Some time ago we reconnected on Facebook and, on the Tuesday after conference,  we finally met up again. Strangely the intervening years were as if they had not been, apart from us all being a little greyer and heavier. For me people tend to be out of mind when out of sight, but this may not be a good thing. Conrad is right when he says that perhaps we shouldn’t leave it for thirty something years next time.

Apart from friends we have also been catching up with family. My cousin Barry is the nearest thing I have to a big brother and so when we are in the South East we like to go to see him and Helena, his wife. We spent a very enjoyable Wednesday afternoon with them, wherever they have lived has always felt like home to us. Today as always we were made to feel at home and spent several happy companionable hours with them.

Our trip is being rounded off with a couple of days spent with Neelam’s sister Neeta and her family. It is a few years since we last stayed with them, so this visit feels overdue. One of the most enjoyable things about our visits to Neeta and Ajay over the years has been watching our nephews grow from mischievous wee boys into fine young men, both intelligent and polite.

Many years ago, when my grandmother died, the family was gathered together, informally, in my mother’s sitting room, my aunt Barbara remarked, “This is fun, it’s a pity there’s one fewer of us each time we get together like this” (or words to that effect!). My aunt died last year, I’m not sure she was correct as new members keep being born into the family. What I do know is, that as I grow older, people do pass out of my life, some of whom have been dear to me. I do not know what my future holds so today I will treasure the people I still have in my life, they are too precious to allow to slip away, however natural it is for me to let them.



Things About Love
October 24, 2013, 22:14
Filed under: autism, disability | Tags: , , , , ,

“There’s things I want to say, things about love” Wendy Grace

As so often happens, I was lying awake in the early hours of the morning with thoughts dancing through my mind. Not only ideas, but also a half-remembered song, `Let It Start’ by Wendy Grace a gentle love song about accepting people as they are.

I find the whole subject of love somewhat confusing, but romance is worse,  I have worked out that flowers are involved. The funny thing is that although I am certain that I love, I am not sure what love is.  In one episode of Mrs Brown’s  Boys, Cathy asks Agnes when she first knew she loved her husband, to which Agnes responds, “A few weeks after he died. ” That resonated with me. I have an unfortunate tendency not to realise how important people are to me until after I have lost them. Recently someone described me as his, “best friend at University”, I wish I had known.  Friendship,  like love,  is confusing. When I was undergoing my autism assessment I was asked whether I had friends,  I was then asked if I had visited any of them in their homes,  that question was followed by, “Do you know where any of them live? ” It had never occurred to me that it was relevant.

I know I love people,  but I think I only understand that I love them when they die. Their absence makes explicit the part they played in my life;  it is only when I experience the emptiness they leave that I appreciate the magnitude of their contribution. I wish it were not so, but I have not yet worked out how to measure love. I grieve when I am bereft, partly because I never feel as though I have shown my appreciation,  but also because it is only then that I appreciate what I had.



Autism Awareness: Friendship

After Mr Kohli’s funeral last Wednesday, a young woman introduced herself to me. I am glad she recognised me as I didn’t immediately recognise her, as I have been known not to recognise my own daughter that’s hardly a surprise. She is the daughter of a friend, and when she told me her age I realised I hadn’t visited them for about fourteen years. They moved house and I’m not comfortable going on my own to places with which I am unfamiliar unless I have prepared in great detail. Another friend’s daughter is my friend on Facebook, again it took a little time to work out who she was as last time I’d seen her she was a child.

I lose touch with people because I have a very poor sense of the passage of time, my wife says I have the biggest “now” of anyone she knows.

Sometimes I lose friends from a combination of circumstances. I had a couple of friends, Lynn and Robert, whom I used to visit regularly, well about once a year, which is unusual as I generally don’t visit people. A couple of years ago I was going to visit them, and emailed to set up a visit, I got no response. When I phoned what I had as their number, a complete stranger answered. I had lost their house number and couldn’t recognise their house, I didn’t want to knock on doors in case a stranger answered. I emailed several times with no reply. I am sad because I do actually miss them. I’m also sad because, even if they ever make contact with me again, I’ll never be able to tell them how I feel, I can never tell people how I feel about them.

I do miss people who leave my life, but I don’t seem to have any mechanism for holding onto them. I presume I had friends at school, university, and previous employments, but I’m not in contact with any, and, to be perfectly honest, am not really aware of who my friends were. I only really assume I had friends because the converse is implausible.

I certainly miss some people when they die, especially if I’m used to them being around. I have an almost paralysing fear that my wife may die before me. I don’t know how I’d live without her, literally I’m not sure I could manage. I do know that the sadness I feel when I lose a friend is nothing compared to that sadness. Personally I’m indifferent to death, its no big deal, but I’m not good with loss.

All of which is a very long preamble to an earlier piece about relationships.

People Who Need People

I recently received a nice message from a friend on Twitter telling me that I make a difference to her son. At the end of last year when I was considering suicide in a logical sort of a way I received several messages, again telling me I make a contribution. As the song says, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” I needed people and I was lucky they were there.

My problem is that I forget I need people, or more accurately other people do not really occur for me. I know they are there but they do not really impinge upon my my consciousness except – I suppose – as an extension of myself or as an object of my attention like a tree or a painting. I do not feel connected to people and that they have thoughts and feelings of their own only occurs by logical process. To a great extent it is only when someones’ intervention directly impacts me that there is any connection and then it is because of the effect on me. Does this sound callous? It is not supposed to. I don’t particularly want to be so disconnected, but it’s the way I am. The support I have received really has helped me again and again and sometimes I am aware of that.

While writing I keep an eye on my social networks and have just found a moving post “This is how my son shows compassion in an Autistic way “ . I find this truly impressive, most of the time I am unaware of others’ difficulties and when I am aware I am frequently unable to work out of what I am aware. I am aware something is wrong but it can take me a long time before I can calculate what it is. I have written before about the sense of looking at the world from within a glass box, I don’t know if I conveyed how agonisingly frustrating it is to have so much information without being able to organise it into coherent meaning. It is like the sensation of having a name on the “tip of your tongue”, but rather than one piece of information what is missing is the key that will make sense of all the information I’m receiving. It is the sense of almost having the answer but it only just being out of reach. The frustration is agonising to the point of being physically painful, invariably it precipitates a physical reaction.

Perhaps I’m feeling sorry for myself because I have been having one of those weeks where nothing makes much sense, the words I hear have difficulty carrying meaning to my brain, I see things occurring but I’m not sure what is happening or why. I just described it to someone as, “one of those weeks where the symbol of a jigsaw makes sense even if little else does” and it is very much like having all the pieces of a puzzle, realising its different from the picture on the box, but being unable to see the difference.

Now awareness of others suddenly kicks in. Some of the interchanges we have with parents of ASD kids on the world wide web can be quite acrimonious, but I realise that perhaps it is because our world is terrifying to “normal” people – it would scare the shit out of me if I had the sense to be scared! Most people need a world that makes sense – I think we’d all like a world that makes sense – but they are aware that their kids live in a world that much of the time makes no sense and it terrifies them because they cannot understand how anyone can live in that world. Logically I suppose they are also saddened that they cannot share the world in which their child is living. – But what do I know, I’m making this up as I go along? – My world is not really a world you can understand, I don’t think I understand it, I don’t think I understand me. This is why my mind has so many routines and sub-routines, it means I continue to function even when I am unable to understand. During one period of savage depression when a student, I started to go to High Mass frequently not because of any spiritual comfort, but because the incense and music and colour provided a place of stability that engaged all my senses. The Mass was one of the few things that stopped the chaos in my head. The rituals and routines in which I engage daily provide a foundation and structure which continues to make living possible. Do I need them on a good day? Perhaps not, but they remain in place because they have a deep logic which overrides the logic of reason and continues when reason cannot.

I use people, they are essential to my functioning environment, I do need people. I don’t always appreciate them as I should and I am sorry for that. The song may say “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”, but what it should say is, “People who have the people they need there for them when they need them are the luckiest people in the world.” I think I am incredibly lucky and – at the moment – aware enough to be grateful.



Mature Autism – My Friends

It is a commonly held view that people with Asperger’s don’t have friends the problem is not that we don’t have friends but that we have a different definition of friendship. I only became aware of this when I was going through my assessment. I had just been asserting that I had several friends when I was asked if I’d ever visited any of them in their home or whether I even knew where they lived. Not only had I never visited any of them ‒ apart from a couple ‒ but it would never have occurred to me to visit just as I would never invite someone to visit me. To be perfectly honest I cannot see why I would want anyone to come to my house. My home is my place, it’s bad enough that my family come to visit without having friends disrupt the place too. (My wife says I should point out that her family being Indian expect to be in contact every few days at the most)

I count several of the people with whom I work as friends particularly those I occasionally meet outside work. According to Facebook I have 103 friends but in reality I don’t count all of them as friends. Some of my Facebook friends are actually family, the only ones I really count as friends are those with whom I interact on a fairly regular basis. What is regular? I phone my brother regularly, at least once a year ‒ I am close to my brother ‒ I don’t phone anyone else unless I have to. I do have conversations on Facebook and I enjoy them.

Most of the people I think of as friends I connect with on Twitter and with many of them I share an interest in autism. From Twitter I follow links to their blogs and interact with them through the comments and back into Twitter for further conversation. Now I know that the NTs among you might find it hard to understand how I can be friends with people I have never met, but I can and am fiercely supportive of them. I particularly enjoy that my friends interact with me positively and share ideas and comment on my comments. I call that conversation. Actually I defined conversation as two people speaking alternately, my wife said it should be on a common subject which ‒ I must admit ‒ had escaped me!

Many years ago I used to participate in a newsgroup alt.healing.reiki (AHR) after some years one of the group Joseph “Running Wolf” Sparti aka “Shadow wolf” came to Scotland to run a training so I went along. As I walked in Joseph ‒ who I had never met but with whom I had aligned often in arguments ‒ greeted me with, “What’s your name?” I replied, “Rory Patton.” “No,” he said, “What’s your name on AHR?” To which I replied, “Chamundi”. “I knew it!” he said. It was as if we had known each other for years, we had a great weekend. I never met him again and he has since died but he is my friend and I miss him ‒ as much as miss anyone which probably is not as much as you! I have met another member of AHR ‒ Judy Rigby ‒ a couple of times, I consider her a close friend, I have actually visited her home! I can go years without being in contact with someone, I don’t notice the time pass. If I see someone in two consecutive years I call that frequent. I have little need of physical proximity with others and what need I have is more than sufficiently met by my wife and family. I encounter more people face to face than I like.

I don’t know what you want from friendship and I suspect my definition of friendship probably would not satisfy you but it gives me what I need. If you worry about your child’s relationships, remember his or her needs may be very different from yours. Try to let your child determine the contact they need for themselves and support them in finding that.



Asperger’s and Friendship.
December 22, 2009, 10:30
Filed under: asperger's syndrome, autism | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Prompted by the season and a book I was reading I have been considering what friendship means. During my assessment I was asked if I had friends, I said yes, after all I am in a quiz team. It was only when I was asked. “have you ever been to their homes?” followed by, “Do you know where any of them live?” that I realised I have a different interpretation of friendship from other people. I do not like visitors to my home. I am uncomfortable having my wife’s family visit even only a couple at a time. (My mother visited twice and my brother thrice in 30 years). I have one real friend (I had two but one died) who visits. I was asked at my assessment who initiates the contacts between my friend and I, of course it is my friend not I. It does not usually occur to me to contact people. I have no contact with anyone from my school or university days or previous employments but I think I got on with people.

I realise that I am not sure how one is supposed to behave or act as a friend. My wife is very good at prompting me to contact people when appropriate such as after a bereavement and she remembers birthdays and Christmas. I used to think those who bullied me were friends despite the things they put me through, I have done things for people – such as taking the blame for things they did – who claimed to be friends not realising until pointed out to me later that I was just being used. I think perhaps that for those of us who have an inability to understand people it is better to keep people at a distance. I think perhaps I realise that and so I don’t have friends the way normal people do, it’s safer this way. It might be nice to feel what friendship is like but how would I distinguish it? No, I’m better off as I am.




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