October 6, 2013:  The Ability to Speak a Name

     There is something about adversity that can sometimes drive a voice out of the shadows.   Remembering that adversity--and more importantly that voice--once the moment of crisis has passed, however, is a bit more difficult.  Speaking up with deep conviction could even be described as the transformation of that adversity into something better.  Without open adversity, however, it is easy to forget why speaking up is so important.  When circumstances are comfortable and convenient, speaking with deep conviction and a commitment to higher principles must draw its energy from elsewhere-- perhaps even from remembering what previously occurred with sufficient intensity that the past seems timeless. Within the stories of virtually every marginalized population regardless of the real or imagined basis of the particular bigotry--race, orientation, ability, religion, nationality, or whatever--the pattern of events always seem to move from being those who cannot be openly discussed within polite company, to being those who are finally demanding respect and getting it, to being assimilated by the mainstream in ways that tend toward conformity, to ultimately being once again the name that is not openly discussed, simply because doing so might make someone uncomfortable.  Hello?  Have we all forgotten that the very fact of being fully alive is inescapably intertwined with passing from one uncomfortable experience to the next?  It is never comfortable to practice or prepare to do one’s best.  Being awarded a silver medal in bodybuilding came after eighteen months of strenuous exercise--two hours per day, six days per week-- accompanied by all sorts of self-discipline and sacrifice (no desserts, no fried foods, etc.).  The accomplishment was not a lottery prize; it was earned.  The ability to identify myself as autistic without any sort of shame, is similarly a matter of self-discipline and sacrifice.  I continue to study myself and my particular manifestation of autism in order to continually expand my understanding of what I can do and of what I have to give to the world around me.  I will not--under any circumstances whatsoever--consent to ever again be an example of a race, an orientation, an ability, a religion, or a nationality that cannot openly speak its own name.  Specifically by remembering the past, I will strive to build a better future.  If I must leave behind the unhealthy sweetness of superficial popularity in the same way that desserts had no place in my life while training for the accomplishment of a silver medal, then at least I know that I will have no regrets and that any prize I receive will be one of earned integrity and perseverance rather than mere chance.  The characteristics with which one is born--orientation, race, social class, ability, and so forth--are sometimes described as being “accidents of birth,” but the creative and constructive expression of each of these within the unfolding of life that follows, are the substance of meaning and purpose that give power to whomever is willing to serve them.  By love and wisdom, all that I am is what I am divinely called to be--in the most beautiful way possible.  Truth seeks a voice within the world and I am willing to lend it mine.  If there are those who do not understand and/or who respond badly, they will still have had the chance to do better than that, if I have been faithful to the spirit within me.  For my part, I will strive to effectively utilize every such chance entrusted to me.  Yet, all that being said, what is the name by which I will call my spirit?  All things considered, how  could there by only one?  Nonetheless, I am a single point at which many spectrums and continuums intersect.  Spiritually, I am a glass of water striving for a relationship of love and wisdom with the ocean.  One thing I am not, however, is a person fearful of speaking any of his names publicly.   Complex though it may be to say this, I am myself.


December 5, 2013:  Standing Tall in a World of Cowering Shadows

     On one hand, I remain absolutely convinced that absolutely everything is extremely interconnected and interdependent.  On the other hand, however, as someone with high-function autism, I remain very aware the details of my world, among which is that apparently the majority of those around me wish to hide everything of which others might not approve--including autism.  In contrast, I learned very early in life that one cannot live one’s own life with any integrity nor can one effectively serve one’s life purpose (and, yes, I believe everybody has at least one) while striving to be the embodiment of others’ expectations, fantasies, and illusions.  As superficially desirable as it may seem to experience life as perpetually blissful, the inescapable truth is that we don’t grow nor do we learn much from being happy all of the time.  It is the cycles of days and nights and seasons that keep the world going and it is the cycles of happiness, sadness, fear, anger, failure, success, and contentment which keep our spirits alive.  We cannot serve those cycles, however, while hiding from whatever our respective life experiences include.  For those of us with autism, it may be even more difficult to withstand how  overwhelming the world typically feels, but no good comes from allowing the victimization we experience to become our primary personal definition.  We must continually show  the people of the world the multi-dimensional universe within ourselves, of which they would otherwise be completely unaware--specifically because of the light and the empowerment such personal universes can provide.  In the absence of such light, life in general would be nothing but shadows and darkness.  You are indeed a light to the world--so shine, in whatever ways you can.