Springingtiger's Blog

Aspergian Thoughts on Meaning

Do people with Asperger’s think more than humans, it feels like it? Whereas some moo seem to be able to get through life with a minimum of constructive thought, we are condemned to analyse and assess everything, we even analyse our analyses. We are locked in a never ending quest to make sense of your world and its inhabitants.

Of course, if it is true that, with our thoughts we create the world we perceive, then perhaps our problem is merely that we over think. Perhaps we are looking for a meaning that is not there, perhaps your lives are meaningless. We look for purpose in your lives, perhaps there is none; what if your ultimate purpose is to live until you die having spawned your next generation? Would that be so bad? An examination of virtually any species shows that their purpose is generally to reproduce, are humans really any different?

One wonders why people need to find meaning, higher purpose for their lives. Is it not enough just to live and enjoy? Humans have, it seems, an unlimited capacity for enjoyment and so many ways to satisfy their senses, food, music, art, theatre, cinema, sport. There seems to be a certain reality to emotions, perhaps they are no more than chemical reactions, but people certainly feel them. What someone can feel they can enjoy, and that is certainly true of emotions, as any grandparent, watching their granddaughter discovering butterflies, can affirm. With so much to see, and do, and feel and, above all, to enjoy do you really need a higher purpose, is this not enough?

And of my own search for meaning? Perhaps that is my purpose, to search for meaning. The search is the purpose, for if one should ever find the meaning of life then their would be no more purpose, the game would be over.


Sometimes You Can Go Back

This week I have been revisiting my past, happily without disappointment. It must be about nine years since I saw The Mavericks, however Neelam discovered that they were performing in the Usher Hall in Edinburgh on Wednesday and bought tickets. Each of our Front Stall tickets was thirty five pounds, I have to say that occurs ad great value. The support act was a singer/songwriter, Declan O’Rourke; his first two slow songs led me to believe I was going to be bored by him, but then he went into an acappella song about a sailor marrying the sea and the rest of his set was funny, inspired and lively. Of course the audience was the Mavericks’ audience and The Mavericks did not disappoint. Their new material was blended with the classics we all knew and bopped along to, some of the arrangements were new, but the enjoyment was unchanged. When the band took it’s interval, Raoul Malo was away long enough for a quick pee and then came back to play a solo set until the band returned. Very few of the audience say for long during the second half, it is easier to listen to The Mavericks while dancing! It may have been nearly a decade since I saw them, buy there were as great as I remembered.

I spent three weeks living in Edinburgh in 1986 as part of the British Telecom Special Events Team at the Commonwealth Games and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, perhaps too well. Since then I have only visited as a day tripper, Neelam and I decided this time to stay for a couple of nights. Edinburgh is still an easy place in which to have fun and find good food. Even were one to choose not to enter any of the city’s attractions, just walking around the streets is an entertainment provided by the tourists and the amazing views that present themselves at every turn. I have returned to Edinburgh and I was not disappointed.

Back in my student days I used to hang out in Turnbull Hall, the Catholic chaplaincy. Among the crowd were Mike Foster and his girl friend Angiolina, two of the nicest people one could have hoped to meet. I am notoriously bad at maintaining contacts, but Neelam has been encountering both Mike and Angiolina at various points in her professional life. Neelam set up for is to meet Angiolina, who is now a director in the Scottish Government over coffee in St. Andrew’s House. In all honesty I was not entirely looking forward to the meeting, it had been a long time since we had met and I didn’t want to be disappointed. I should not have worried, Angiolina was every bit as lovely as I remembered and it was great to catch up on the intervening thirty seven years (I did say I’m not good at keeping in contact with people!) I was not disappointed, far from it, it crowned a very enjoyable mini holiday.

People say it’s not a good idea to revisit one’s past because of the danger of disappointment, they are entitled to their opinions. However I have revisited my past and I was not disappointed. After the last few days, should I get an opportunity to revisit my past I will not hesitate; the possible joy to be derived from revisiting my past far outweighs the risk of disappointment.

Gratitude for Virtual friends

Last night I was in conversation on Twitter when it occurred to me once again how much I appreciate my virtual friends. Certainly some of the people with whom I interact are personally known to me, but there are many whom I have never had the pleasure of meeting. A goodly number of them are fellow bloggers on autism, some fellow autistics to whom, like myself, interacting via the web is preferable than conversing face to face. However were I ever to meet any of them, the background of relatedness we have built up would make interaction less awkward. I realise that even online I am quite reluctant to befriend people willy-nilly, although there are some people among my “friends” because it felt impolite or impolitic to refuse them,  the majority have been selected for good reason.

I have basically three types of online “friends”: family and people I know with whom I wish to remain in contact, and people with whom I have connected on line. I find Facebook a great way of keeping in touch with family scattered over three continents. However the people whom I wish to acknowledge are my virtual friends, particularly those around  The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism and The Coffee Klatch http://thecoffeeklatch.com/ who not only have provided moral support and acknowledgement when needed, but are an invaluable source of information and links.

There are too many to acknowledge so I shall content myself with a representative selection. Kim Wombles, whom I feel I’ve known for years, actually I think I have! She has an excellent blog “Countering” http://kwomblescountering.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1 . Shannon  Des Roches Rosa who has a blog Squidelicious at http://www.squidalicious.com/
Marianne Russo who founded The Coffee Klatch, her blog The Life Unexpected is at http://thelifeunexpected.com/

Liz Ditz   is another one of those people who believes reason and good science is better than myth and woo, her blog may be found at http://lizditz.typepad.com/

Other bloggers who are important to me include Nettie Heidman http://nettiesworld.com/
Amalia Starr is an autism  advocate and speaker whose blog about the struggles of her adult son is on Autisable   at http://amaliastarr.autisable.com/
Jeff Stimson  whose blog about raising a son with autism  is at http://jeffslife.tripod.com/alextheboy/

Another time I will have a different list, but these are the people I am being grateful for today.

Sound and Vision

Before NaPoWriMo it would never have occurred to me to try and rhyme either Pythagarean or multidimensional, it’s not easy!

I love to see the shape of sound
That resonates and shines around
My house; and, with shapes, fills my head,
From before dawn til time for bed.
Shapes reflecting all words said;
Pythagorus has never known
Some of the structures I’ve been shown.
In a concert there may be an
Abundance of new and strange forms
Far beyond Pythagorean
Imagination, which transforms
Music merely sensational,
Into something which may be found
To be multidimensional.

It’s a different perception
Of any sounds reception
That has music, so often felt,
Be something seen and even smelt.

The Month

On Tuesday the month ends. This year I have to admit Autism Awareness month, or Autism Acceptance month, has made little impact on me as my focus has been very much on National Poetry Writing Month. It has been the least stressful April for years, I have argued with no one, despite there being a Measles epidemic over here, I haven’t managed to pick a fight with an anti-vaxxer, I am feeling chilled and virtuous. I have even made a positive connection with a cure seeker, I wouldn’t have predicted that last April.

The month may be ending, autism isn’t and our respective struggles continue, even if the spotlight has been turned from us. If I would want us to take anything forward over the year, it would be respect and tolerance; how can we expect acceptance when we present the world with a model of vicious intolerance and division. One thing autistics come to learn is that other people are very different, in all honesty it sometimes manifests more as “why are normal people so weird/horrible/wrong?”, but they are definitely different.

There is an NLP presupposition that, “People do the best they can with the resources they have available” and another that “all actions have a positive intent”. If someone espouses a ridiculous point of view, it does not mean they are are bad, it merely means that the data they have is flawed or is it? Before we correct them let’s double check our own sources first; are they empirically sound, are they up to date? Autism is a subject that provokes strong emotional reactions from some people, particularly the neurotypical who are less prone to rely on reason. We need to put our emotions aside and treat their opinions logically and respectfully. There may be some beliefs from which no amount of science or reason will sway them, but this is no reason to hold them in contempt, they remain human beings. Far better to find common ground upon which we can build, than insist on wasting energy in pointless struggle. If they are unwilling to put aside differences for the sake of the greater goal then shake their dust off your sandals and pursue more fruitful activities. At the end of the day we have a goal that is too important to allow us to waste time in fruitless argument, better to focus on reaching out with the truth where we can make a difference and hopefully allow that which is unhelpful to wither from neglect.

Through a Glass Darkly

Sometimes there is a dichotomy
Between what is there for me,
And what you know to be true;
A wall my mind can’t break through,
And a truth it cannot see.

Nothing’s wrong with my perception,
But a break with my conception.
Thus nothing makes any sense
And all is confused, so hence
Senses find no reception.

Like looking out through a glass
On worlds of another class,
Another reality,
Or an abnormality
Where unreason comes to pass.

Literally losing my mind
And the reason I would find;
Although my eyes can well see,
Mind can’t interpret for me
I might just as well be blind.

New deep thoughts form in my brain
Then to express them I strain,
I struggle, but cannot reach
The shapes that make up my speech;
And so I retreat again.

How I am today, is just that.

Today I awoke tired and sore, all my muscles ached, my throat was burning; in short i was displaying all the symptoms I have learned to associate with the onset of, what I call, a CFIDS, event. Yesterday I did not behave entirely sensibly. I came off a night shift and just took a couple of hours nap before heading off to Edinburgh for the afternoon and evening. I had committed to a seminar in the evening, but the afternoon was optional. Neelam had a meeting in the morning so I thought it would be fun to spend the afternoon in Edinburgh, logically not the most sensible of choices, but I was right it was fun. We went to Patisserie Valerie where the food is good, but the cakes and pastries are magnificent. Edinburgh is always a nice place to visit, even if all one does is walk around and look. We walked and we looked, we visited the Peace and Justice Centre.

While we are on the subject there is a weekend of Scrap Trident action in Glasgow this weekend beginning on Saturday with a demonstration in George Square at 10:15 all details from http://www.scraptrident.org

In the evening, increasingly tired we went to my seminar. I was too tired to do it justice. Had I had a proper sleep things might have been very different, but I chose a day out. The point is, as I realised on reflection today, I chose; no one else chose for me, what I got, I chose. The strange thing is, the moment I realised, I chose to feel better and I felt better. Ok, I still felt tired, but I didn’t let it spoil my day, I chose to rest as I needed, I chose to have a bath and, above all, I choose to feel good. It is not wrong to feel tired, or to have a headache, it may be inconvenient, but it is not wrong, at worst it is merely what’s so and that may not have to be true. Look around, wherever there is cause for pain and sorrow and suffering, some suffer, but some do not. Wherever there is cause for joy and celebration, there are always some who, nonetheless, suffer. What matters is not the circumstances in which we live, but how we live in our circumstances. Although I may have got little out of the seminar last night, I was reminded of my est training and that I, and I alone, am responsible for my experience and I alone can transform it. The strangest part of this is that one’s circumstances seem to mirror one’s experiences. If I am happy I can quickly find reasons for my happiness; in truth it is not our circumstances that cause our experience, but, rather, the experiences we choose that give us the world in which we live. We will always be able to find reasons for how we feel, but how we feel will determine the reasons we find and so, if we choose to rejoice in and enjoy our world we will find plenty of cause for joy. Rejoice!