Through the wardrobe

I don't care about reality. You have it, you keep it and take care of it, and tell me all about it if you like. I'll pet it a little and pretend to understand, to know what you mean when you say

The real world matters, we all have to live in it

This reality is what counts, this is what we have

I know this is true because I can feel it and see it

It does you good to live in the real world

You have it, have the grand plans and new schemes, have the walk to work and the run to keep up. I don't want it. I won't answer the door to it, or include it in my limited plans for getting through today, for walking free in my own unreal, unseen world.

I'm unrealistic (apparently). I need to do these real-world, fact-based, hard-edged tasks to make everything happen like it's supposed to. Who made these rules? Does it matter if I fit in? Who cares if I do? I don't care, why should you?

Have it to yourself, you like it so much. You cuddle its hard edges and polish it so it shines in the bright, blinding sun pouring in through your uncluttered, shining windows. Have it where everyone can see it and remark how well done you are.

Later, when the sun goes down, plug in the spotlight and shine it on your reality so it can never sit quietly in darkness. Who knows what might happen if you let the night fall? Or if, tip-toeing into new waters, you lit it only with a soft candle instead of a harsh light. What might it look like then?

How would its hard edges change in the flickering from one candle? What might you not be able to see? How would it feel to lose sight of the corners, to see the edges you had felt so often fall away as if they were instead something living and not so accurately measured as what came before?

Would you be afraid? Would you wonder what really sat behind the candle, looking almost as if it moved in the glow?

Would it feel, perhaps, as if the candle hid more than it showed and the dark room behind your beloved reality was really not there at all, had never really been there, had been a clever illusion held in place by what you constructed and lit and admired every day as your own besotted creation.

It's a gentle grip that never lets go. I can't tell you what lies behind the dark or moves within the candle, or what it was that, on looking, had gone before you saw it clearly. Light the candle, it's better than letting the darkness in all at once, and let the room grow past what you expected to find.

And in the morning, as the sun builds behind the glass, look closely to see if your reality is still as you remember.

© Amanda J Harrington 2016

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What is the yellow bird?

It sounds like the start of a haiku, though then we'd have to:

What is yellow bird? or Is the yellow bird?

which might be quite nice and lead to wheeling high above the cat

then safe and free at last.

So, yes, I went off track there. I only picked the yellow bird title because I saw a little canary the other day, desperately trying to get into Asda (they know no better), hopping away from the anxious security guard and worried assistant who were trying to pluck up the courage to catch it. I'd been in the middle of a conversation with IT Girl and as soon as I saw the bird, off I went to see what was happening.

This is a verifiable distraction: a canary trying to go shopping in Asda is a sight most people would find distracting. But what if you don't need the yellow bird?

What if all you need is a random key word in your sentence or someone else's to set you off in a new direction? Off you go, logically changing route (logical to you anyway), leaving the other person wondering if they missed something.

Or a key word that isn't even spoken. I'm so guilty of this, I think it and then I follow it. No one is ever going to see the logic because they don't know what I was thinking or why I switched from planning supper to expressing my thoughts on trail-blazing jazz musicians of the 20th century.

And pity them if they ask because it makes no sense to other people and they just come away thinking a random thought is more important to me than my conversation with them.

This is the crux of why the easily distracted can make it hard for other people: shooting off in a new direction is bound to make the other person think you lost interest in them, because you did lose interest in them. Nothing personal, it was just this other thing, this sudden, golden-shined thing, it got in the way and you had to go after it before you forgot. And if you are easily distracted you forget a lot, so when a golden thought comes along, you follow it.

Leaving your best beloved like a spare part and not feeling golden at all.

It's hard to explain to people that one stray thought or word, tiny event or glimpse, sound, smell, light in the sky, shadow by the door, shape of your hand in the window, sudden remembrance of sweetness...there is no end to these distractions.

I love them though, and I'd be so bored without them. Imagine having a brain that followed straight lines all the time. Obviously I would never be late, but I doubt I would be pulling over in the car to write the poem that just started in my head. There are always compensations and if you are lucky you learn to appreciate them and the part they play in making you who you are.

By the way, it's no good telling people you are highly distractible. Mostly they will say they are too (liars! I love you, but no!!) and laugh about being forgetful. Honestly, no, forgetful is like, well, oh, Uncle Jonas had his birthday today, better send him a message. Forgetful is not looping round the earth and back when you only wanted to go to the shop.

I would rather take the long way and be who I am than take the normal route, buy my milk and come straight home again. I have had many, many surreal conversations and experiences simply because I got distracted and surreal can be good.

Surreal life is full of colour and re-shaped, hidden meanings, of tangled connections that don't make obvious, instant sense. Knowing life is like this makes it easier because for all of us, spectrum or not, life very rarely follows straight lines, it is mostly surrealism disguised as impressionism.

And just like art, we don't all have to see it the same way.


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Tell me how I feel

Sometimes I rely on other people to tell me what the world means, and how I can make a best-fit try at life. I have a habit of looking for opinions too much, just because things don't make much sense to me; it seems logical to ask the advice of people who do see sense in the whole crazy world around us. But I can go too far.

I was asking my eldest son for advice, asking him what other people might do, what they might think, what I might do, and so on. I expect the friends and family of aspies can guess how this conversation went, it definitely belonged in the 'but why?' category. We might not say it exactly that way but we might as well be asking:

But why did they say that?
But why did it turn out that way?
But why does it mean that instead of this?

Frankly, it doesn't matter how many special interests and perfect understandings you have, there is always so much of life that ends up as but why.

I was but-whying my son (yet again), this time about the feelings and motivations of other people and trying to figure out my own motivations too. I wanted to look at how I was behaving to see if it was the right way (I know, I know), to hold myself up and compare me to what the terrifying majority might do in the same situation.

Finally, after a lot of questions and working it all out, I asked him one more question without giving it much thought.

I said,

'But what do I feel about it?'

Up to then he had answered every question. This time he turned on his heel and looked at me, his head tilted, his mouth curved in bemusement. We were walking along a rain-sodden path at the time, dog happily bounding ahead, only each other for company. He stopped in the path after turning and replied,

'You can't ask me how you feel. Only you know how you feel.'

Starting to walk again, he partly turned and added,

'You can't expect other people to tell you what you feel.'

I stood for a moment longer, rain pelting off the trees either side of us, the shining wet dog dashing round me and on again, watching my son as he walked ahead along the path.

I was momentarily at a loss. Having expected this one more explanation I was faced with the reality that I had just asked someone else how I was feeling about something, and it had been a genuine question. I did want to know how I was feeling about it, I honestly had no idea.

I knew I didn't feel good, or happy. I felt confused, but that's not the answer I was looking for. Without thinking, I had asked my son to explain to me the mess of emotions scooting around in my own head because I had no clue how to separate them and categorise them myself. As he had known the answers to my other questions, this one must have followed naturally, even though I can see why there was no answer.

Just like a child I was viewing my son as an adult with all the answers - after all, adults know everything, don't they? I thought if I asked, he would tell me. That childlike side of me wanted not only to know the answer but to have the comfort of being given the answer.

And it is comforting to know what we need, to have puzzles explained, to finally understand the answer to a problem we have been worrying over. To then realise some questions can only be answered by our confused selves is the opposite of comforting.

I walked on, catching him up, processing the fact that I was on my own with this feelings thing - and along with that, also processing the fact that there might not be a proper, logical answer to how I was feeling.

Feelings come from a part of us that laughs without warning and cries before knowing why. They don't have to make sense, just as life doesn't have to make sense either. All we can do is walk on, rain or no rain, and take it as it comes. Any understanding we gain on the way is a bonus.


 A Guide to Your Aspie

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