I was having an animated discussion with IT teen the other day. This is nothing unusual, as IT teen is very certain of his opinions, not afraid of sharing them and is excruciatingly good at hitting the nail on the head. Always someone else's nail, of course.
This time it was about life and not being able to do things when you want. He wants to go to Japan but is suffering under the delusion that this can be done without getting a job, a rich girlfriend or one of us coming into money.
I was saying that if he wanted all of us to go, then we would have to wait until we had the money. In my mind's eye, I was imagining the contents of my purse - it didn't take long. Verbal hammer at the ready, he said,
"We're always waiting until we have the money. Since we moved to this house, every year, we've been waiting for the money to come in. It's always in the future and never now."
Putting aside the fact that this is true for most people, it was a bit of a shock to hear him say it as it's true. Yes, like most people, we aren't rolling in cash, but what he meant was all the times over the years that I've promised to do something 'when we have the money'.
The aspie spin on this, as many other aspies will know, is that it's not just waiting for the money, it's waiting for life to change and become what we expect of it. There is a difference.
For instance, waiting for the money for non-aspies usually means earning it, or earning extra and saving it. The money will often be there, or be accounted for, even if there isn't enough of it.
For me, the money has never been there and anytime I've had a job, I've either had to spend any earnings on debts racked up before getting the job or I've totally lost track of where the money should be going, so although we benefit from it, we don't benefit as much as we could.
In other words, as usual, there's a mismatch between life as it is and life as it is perceived to be by the aspie.
Let me be clear: this is not just about being bad with money. Money is an example, a really good one, of how life is hoped to be one way and often ends up being another. While it's all going wrong and the penguins are dropping off the ice floe, the aspie is dancing about, trying to keep steady and knowing if they can just keep their footing for long enough, then everything will be all right.
If we can just keep that job for long enough, or pay off the debts, or stay away from the chocolate, or tidy up every day, or hold our mouths shut the next time, or whatever. Basically, if we can just do better, for long enough, it will all be okay.
You know, this is true. If we could 'do better' for long enough, everything probably would be okay. It's common sense, isn't it? You make more money for long enough and you'll not be so desperate. You stay off the chocolate, you lose weight. Keep your mouth shut and people will stop being offended. Right?
Yes, but it doesn't work like that. We mess it up or get it wrong or simply can't cope with what we need to do and we're slipping off the ice floe, penguins everywhere. This is where the waiting comes in.
You see, the waiting is between the messes. When it's all going wrong and we're trying not to drown, then our focus is on the here and now. When it's settled again and we have time to catch our breath, that's where the waiting begins.
In between messes, once a little time has passed, we decide we know where we went wrong last time and what we'll do better the next. As we now know what to do, we can plan ahead. Planning ahead means we build expectations again and make assumptions based on us being able to behave like reasonable human beans long enough for life to improve.
That way, we also give ourselves hope. If we assumed we'd never, ever do it right or have some luck in life, where would we be? It isn't always penguins slipping into the sea, we have happy times and accomplishments too. As we're often creative, ingenious people, there are bound to be times when we get things right, which also gives us a taste of success.
I'm not saying we shouldn't plan ahead like this and hope for better. I think it's a mistake to decide you'll be able to do things a certain way, especially if similar plans have gone awry in the past. Yes, I know it's going to be different - it might even turn out like you expect - but learning from past experience is what sets us apart from Uncle Ivan and his ten wives.
So, where does that leave waiting? Should we or should we not wait for better times? Yes, of course we should, in as far as we should always feed hope and have belief in our ability to try again and make good things happen.
What we should be wary of is the length of time spent waiting without any real prospect of things changing. We can waste a lot of time expecting life to change, magically, simply because we think it can and should.
In my example, of waiting for the money, I have tried lots of jobs and failed in areas, so that the money didn't come. But I have also made money over the years, in very much related avenues of writing books, private tuition and the school visits and workshops.
In between these successful enterprises, I have tried lots of other ways to make money, most of which have failed either because they were bad ideas or because I couldn't cope with the working world and didn't allow myself to admit that at the time.
And in between all of this, has been the waiting for things to improve. If I had spent that time working on what I could do and do well, then I might not still be waiting. It's almost as if the very fact of having something to concentrate on takes away the need to physically do anything about it. In other words, the dream takes the place of reality.
So, I'm sticking it in the eye for waiting. I'm going to put my efforts into what I know I can do and try (try, try, try, dear readers) to avoid going off on one of my merry-go-round adventures where I always seem to end up back at the same place.
I know myself well enough to realise this may be impossible. I don't think I'm capable of not diverting, but I will try to divert onto similar paths and keep things tied together, so that I do what I know I can.
You notice I promise nothing, except to try? When we wait, we promise ourselves things will be better when...We should only promise to do our best and do what we can. That way, we are following our own capabilities, rather than other people's and we have much more chance of improving our lives, without the endless waiting.
The secret is to work with our personalities instead of against them and to know the difference. I'm still waiting to get the hang of that one, though.
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