I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today...
It's nice up here. No one around. Just me and Astro-cat.
I thought I'd drop in with a few words before I lose radio contact. Things are okay. Take-off on New Year's Day was a bit turbulent. But once I shook off the earth's gravitational pull, things began to feel better.
Day 13 without any form of mind-altering substances - except caffeine. At last, I'm beginning to get some clarity. I'm between planets job-wise - but I can see the light of the new one, twinkling in the near-distance ahead.
I went for a little space-walk yesterday, and what did I happen to see floating by? A DVD, long-lost from someone else's ship. It was one I'd been meaning to watch for many years, too, but never had. So I went back in and settled down with it...
The Hurricane stars Denzel Washington - my all-time favourite actor. It's based on the life of Rubin 'The Hurricane' Carter, the black American-Canadian middle-weight boxer who was wrongly-convicted in the '60s of a triple homicide and sentenced to three life sentences. The original trial was a travesty of justice, blighted by racial prejudice and police corruption. Many knew of his innocence, but said nothing, or told lies. It was a cause célèbre at the time. Prominent people fought his corner over the injustice. Muhammad Ali. Ellen Burstyn. Bob Dylan wrote a famous song, Hurricane, about the case. Rubin took on a different fight in prison. Knowing himself to be innocent, he refused to wear prison clothes, to take jobs, to eat with other prisoners. At night, he stayed awake in thought while the others slept. He kept to his cell. He took up reading, absorbing the classics of literature - especially the literature of struggle. W E DuBois. Frederick Douglass. Richard Wright. James Baldwin. Booker T Washington. He read Zola, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy. He read spiritual works, too - including Jiddu Krishnamurti's The Awakening of Intelligence. He had an awakening of his own. He found a sense of stoicism and a certain peace that enabled him to bear his incarceration. He 'escaped' his physical prison through the medium of his mind. He wrote his autobiography, too, on a manual typewriter he had in his cell. The Sixteenth Round was published in 1975 and remains in print. He served almost 20 years before the sentence was finally overturned in 1985, following the disclosure of fresh evidence that proved the corruption. Upon his release, he devoted himself to the cause of the wrongly-convicted. In 1993, he was awarded an honorary championship title belt from the World Boxing Council. It's an uplifting film. A timeless story of courage in adversity, and eventual triumph against the odds. A story of survival, and of hope. The moral is clear and simple: when you know truth is on your side, don't give up the fight for it. Persevere. A worthwhile thing for me to bear in mind right now.
I'm 60 in May. The last two decades haven't been the easiest. But they've enabled me to find out many things about myself - not least of which has been the secret I've had inside me all of my life without even knowing about it myself until 4 years ago. My autism. Since that diagnosis, I've had an ambivalent attitude to it. Mostly I've seen it as my gift. Other times, such as more recently, I've seen it as my burden.
I'm back to seeing it as my gift. Maybe the changes that have happened recently have enabled me to see the light in it. I'll try my best to keep it shining now. I want to get back to doing some writing, which I've been putting off for far too long. Some reading, too. I want to see what other secrets I can discover.
A new decade of my life. A new job. And maybe a new insight.
Here am I floating in my tin can
Far above the world.
Planet Earth is blue
And I've so much left to do...
Farewell for now, my friends. Go well on your own trips. And thank you for your support and friendship.
PS Last night, I also started to re-read Anneli Rufus's excellent Party of One: The Loner's Manifesto. I'd heartily recommend it to all of you. Not one single mention of autism in it, but it carries a message we all understand. I'll leave you with it:
Remote on principle from one another - this is in our charter and we would not have it any other way - each of us swims alone through a sea of social types. Talkers. Lunchers. Touchers.
Non-loners. The world at large. The mob.
The mob thinks we are maladjusted. Of course we are adjusted just fine, not to their frequency. They take it personally.
They take offence. Feel hurt. Get angry. They do not blame owls for coming out at night, yet they blame us for being as we are. Because it involves them, or at least they believe it does, they assemble the troops and call us names.
Crazy. Cold. Stuck-up. Standoffish. Aloof. Afraid. Lacking in social skills. Bizarre. Unable to connect. Incapable of love. Freaks. Geeks. Sad. Lonely. Selfish. Secretive. Ungrateful. Unfriendly. Serial killers.
They bridle when we turn down invitations. They know we are making up excuses, but they can't handle the truth.
May that truth set us all free
I’ll second that. I love truth and it’s the only thing that sets us free. Amen to Truth.
Relative truth 'n all!
No, only absolute truth sets us free. Relative truth simply gives the illusion of freedom although temporary freedom is on the right path, it can be.
I'm not sure how you mean that, Ellie, but I would guess sarcastically. I certainly can't blame you for that, given some of the comments I've made elsewhere. I've now regretted them and edited or removed them. One of my many faults is that I react quickly, and often in a knee-jerk, dumb and spiteful way, to things said or done. Like BlueRay has said about herself, I often don't think before I speak - and maybe I'm just a little blunter than most. As you have said elsewhere, situations like this highlight how damaged and vulnerable we all are - and that damage and vulnerability expresses itself in all sorts of ways. I should have learned by now to dodge the punches and roll with the falls, but I clearly haven't. Which is why I need to go away alone and subject myself to some closer analysis. I'm no Buddhist, but I believe very much in the Buddhist view that we are all composed of these different, often conflicting beliefs, emotions and impulses. We can all be kind, understanding, compassionate, generous, empathetic. At the same time, we can also all be greedy, selfish, spiteful, angry and jealous. We can think good, and we can think ill. I try to understand and accept this. I try to right wrongs when I make them. Sometimes, when I think I'm actually on the verge of acceptance and enlightenment, I realise that I'm actually very far from those states. I'm still a work in progress. We all are, probably.
I know you don't particularly like me, and I can accept that. Goodness knows, I've given you plenty of reasons not to like me - though some of them, as I hope you can understand, have been unintentional. But we can't all be liked by everyone, can we. I've been a people-pleaser for much of my life, simply as a way of getting people to like me (which isn't to say that my efforts to help others haven't been genuine). I've never been able to make friends, and have never had anyone in my life (apart from, perhaps, partners) whom I'd really call a friend. I've never understood the mechanism of it. The fact that those partners have all left me eventually must prove something. So I've put myself out, often, to please others - which has usually ended up with me not pleasing the one person who really matters: myself. And simply getting people to like you isn't the same as making friends, anyway. I don't actively want people to dislike me. But I accept now that I cannot please everyone any longer. The people on this forum have come to mean a lot to me, in their various ways. But maybe I'm not really made to be a 'social' being in any real sense. Maybe I am best off alone - in that comfort zone that I've never been able to escape from. I really can't handle the challenges presented by other people - NT or otherwise. In that regard, I'm weak - I know that. I think it's why I prefer the company of the people in the line of work I've chosen to do: people with learning disabilities. People who can't help the way they are. People whose respect, if I earn it - which I generally do - is unconditional. The other thing is, I need to learn to like myself better before I can like anyone else. And I don't particularly like myself. No, I don't. Not now, anyway. Until I can learn to like myself, embrace myself - faults and all - I'm probably best off not being around others.
I wish you nothing but the best in your current situation. I'm sure, with the right support and the right people around you, you will come through it. I truly hope so.
Never said I didn’t like you Tom.
thank you for best wishes. x