Filed under: autism, disability, Saivism | Tags: asperger's, autism, bereavement, death, Doctor Who, friendship, grief, Omg Prakash Bakshi, Strictly Come Dancing
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.
Filed under: autism, disability | Tags: bereavement, friendship, loss, love, Mrs Brown's Boys, Wendy Grace
“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.
Filed under: asperger's syndrome, autism | Tags: AS, asd, asperger's, asperger's syndrome, autism, Christmas, friends, friendship
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.