January 20, 2013: Individuality that is honestly Inescapable
    It now seems in retrospect that everyone recognized from the very beginning that I was an absolutely unique individual. Unfortunately, no one--not even me--knew what to do with that and I have never done very well with the "throw him in, sink or swim" approach to educational challenges (usually I just drown). The more I read, however, the more it seems that this same challenge is going to follow me into present and future interactions with others within the world of autism. I'm discovering an ever broader and ever more confusing spectrum of responses to the basic question of what autism is and how it is defined. A great many sources, for example, seem to assert that autism means less emotional expression and connection. I think I'm deeply engaged with my emotions, but they are more often oriented around environments and experiences than around people. Does that mean I'm not autistic after all? One person recently expressed doubt that I have high-functioning autism because I'm often "too eloquent" within my writing and speech. I do verifiably tend to interpret language too literally, however, and often don't understand jokes that people tell--similar to the way I find the old slapstick comedy of the three stooges horrifying to watch, always being more concerned about whether or to what extent someone might have gotten hurt by the imitations of violence being displayed. All of which is only complicated even further by the discovery that I'm gay. As a minority within a minority, my isolation is really quite logical. A corresponding ongoing struggle, however, is convincing myself each day that suicide is not (logical). I don't think it's necessary to repeat that finding one's place or finding a way to fit in, is a struggle that nearly everyone faces; that the assertion that "there's no place within this world for me" is always based upon limited perception and knowledge. There are frequently a thousand other options which remain invisible only because of the assumptions and biases that shape our individual perceptions. Additionally, the general encouragement to make a place for one's self when such a place doesn't already exist, is of course easier said than done. For myself at least, a primary way of creating the strength to persevere, is to remember the many artists, philosophers, free thinkers, and anomalous persons within other times of human history, whose success came later in life. Had they not refused to give up, however, their accomplishments would never have happened at all. A principle essential ingredient of life, therefore, is faith--at the very least in the tentative existence of one's future accomplishments. So every day I try to remember, "Whatever challenges today includes, I need to get through them somehow, if I am ever to see and to participate in the beauty that resides within tomorrow."

February 8, 2013: Post Diagnosis
    Well, it's official: I am now a person with a "disability" and that has specifically been named as High- functioning Autism. In some ways, I'm still trying to figure out what this means. At the very least, it seems to finally explain virtually all of the social/interpersonal problems I've had throughout my life. While in the past I was subjected to almost constant accusations of "just being difficult" or "not trying hard enough," however, it appears that this official diagnosis will finally emphatically dismiss such accusations as being completely illegitimate. I remain at least slightly concerned, however, that for some people this will also mean listening to my words less; i.e. "it's just your disability talking (so I don't have to take your seriously)." Then again, I'm not sure how much those particular people previously listened to me anyway; perhaps they don't really listen to anyone except themselves. With or without any so-called disability, however, principles that continue to guide me are that life is ultimately primarily concerned with the growth of the soul, our lives here are finite so we should use every available opportunity to do all the good that we can, and nothing good is ever gained by running away from truth. What will follow the discovery of this particular truth (my diagnosis), however, is at least for now completely uncertain. I am reminded of a scene from the movie "Mulan," which was highly recommended to me by a trans- woman friend who tragically committed suicide a number of years ago (a brilliant woman with amazing wisdom and abundant creative potential). Toward the end of the movie, an adversary is attacking the city and threatening to kill the emperor and Mulan (a woman who through concealing her identity was allowed to receive warrior training) is rushing to thwart the adversary's negative intentions in any way she can. Her guide and companion, a small dragon, asks her, "So what's the plan?" She responds, "I don't know; I was making it up as I go." So it seems are all of us as well.