First things first, I suppose a little introduction is in order. They usually make me uncomfortable but since we don’t have to guess who is going to go first this should be a little easier. Besides, there is nothing in this world I know more about than myself, the hard part will be keeping this short and sweet. I am 30 years old, and I just discovered a few weeks ago that I have Asperger's Syndrome. In the grand scheme of things this doesn’t change anything, I’m still exactly the same person I was before I figured out why I am so different, and yet at the microscopic level at which I examine myself it’s monumental. This has given me something I have searched my whole life for, perspective. I have found my voice. I hope to help others find theirs. Welcome to my world.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Living life one minute at a time.

Every day dawns new for me. It’s always been that way, for as long as I can remember I have been telling people to leave the past where it belongs. I don’t regret, or dwell, or mourn the things I once had that I have since lost. I’ve always just known that no matter how much something hurts today, and even if it still hurts tomorrow, that there will come a day when I hurt less and there will even come a day when I don’t hurt at all and that loss will be just another memory in a long stream of them.

People for the most part confuse me. Their tendency to dwell in a past they can’t change or on a future they can’t possibly predict never fails to amaze me. That they would sacrifice their happiness now for what they think might make them happy in the future is a concept I simply cant wrap my head around. I live in the moment, taking happiness and sadness as they are presented to me, accepting success and failure as they happen, and in the case of the latter picking myself up, dusting myself off, and moving ever forward no matter how slow the pace. I have no real plan, no idea of what I’m going to do next year, just a few ideas and the willingness to see where they take me.

When you are a child everyone always wants to know what you want to be when you grow up. The truth is that I am 30 years old and still don’t have any idea what I want to be when I grow up, but I played their game and I played it well for awhile when I was young and therefore their expectations weren’t high. As far as they knew I had aspirations and dreams just like any other child, but I was just pulling rabbits from a hat to make them all gasp with glee. I discovered early that if my talents appealed to one or two of my teachers, they could shield me from the scrutiny of the others. I found the library, and the music room, anything to keep me inside at recess. There were still ripples, but for every teacher that took my book away in class, there was another teacher to go straight in and get it back for me.

The problems started when, as I got older, people started expecting me to follow through on these dreams. When everyone else was executing their carefully laid out plans, developing their career, I was struggling to keep my head above water in a world where I was increasingly expected to mingle with my peers on a social basis. I no longer had teachers to shield me, and it was no longer acceptable to focus on one activity to the exclusion of all else. I no longer had the angsty teenager excuse for hiding out in my bedroom all the time, and yet I was feeling an increasing need to be alone and do the things I wanted to do. I was slowly becoming aware that there was no place for me in mainstream society.

The thing that struck me to the core was that this revelation gave me a measure of peace. I didn’t care if I didn’t fit into mainstream society; I’d never understood the motives behind it anyway. Get a good job, make lots of money, buy a big house, a cottage on the lake, and a fancy car all so that you can keep working long enough hours that you never have time to enjoy any of it anyway. I don’t need any of those things to be happy. Save lots of money for your retirement just in case you make it there and there is no more social security to support you. When I get too old to take care of myself I might just wander off into the woods. Don’t bother coming to find me.

None of these things concern me, and that’s a hard concept for most people to understand. Some consider it immature and irresponsible and I agree that my absolute refusal to plan for the future can come across as naïve on the surface, but I believe that it is based firmly in reality.
I don’t need any of those things to be happy, I can be happy with them and just as happy without them. The material possessions are peripheral to my actual needs.

This doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes work towards a goal, it just means that my plans aren’t concrete. They don’t represent a bigger picture of what my life will be like in the future. I can succeed or fail on any step at any time and it doesn’t really have that much of an impact on things as a whole, because as a whole all I want is happiness.

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