I bought some bananas on the road from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh. To eat a banana you must first peel the skin. A thick and rather unyielding exterior hides a fruit of delicious sweetness. Filling and healthy, and yet, if you didn’t know to look beneath the surface, you might discard it.
There are three right ‘nanas here with me now. If travel has broadened their minds they must have been imbecilic when they left Heathrow. One main theme is their schmicheal. This is apparently irresistible to all women and yet woefully under-utilised. They have met women who go on about shit and they just agree with them to get a bit, but still don’t get their end away.
A second topic is shit. Not the aforementioned kind spouted by women, but various hues and consistencies of what passes, or pours more often than not, from their bodies. This is all the fault of the food and not at all related to the alcohol, cocaine and marijuana that have been a daily part of their trip. The small bus bears painful testament to the fact that Jamie is none too well.
The slightly infected wounds, which are yellowing and weepy, were caused by a motorbike accident equally unrelated to their choices. A stunt that went epically wrong but apparently that’s because you only live once. They might go to a doctor when they arrive in Cambodia, though the talk is more of unregulated pharmacies and lounging by the pool in speedos that enhance their respective schmicheals.
I wonder how far under the slightly racist, very sexist, phallic obsessed, pus encrusted exterior I would have to delve to find the true sweetness in these countrymen of mine. At the market, if the bananas don’t have a healthy skin I pass over them. Mould on the outside often means there’s nothing worth looking for inside. Here to I have decided not to buy, so I will never know if Jamie Jamie Blow Job, Jackoff and Fingers have more to offer than the facade they are offering to people on the road from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh.
That week. That week that was. That awful week that was endured. It lies behind me now. Not thrown away like trash, for life is a cycle. I have recycled those lessons that I have learnt from all those weeks endured behind me. Neatly stacked the weeks are placed into months into years into decades. My life that was and still is.
Lessons learned and relearned. Difficulties, over and over, then overcome as I strive for more. I want more compassion to exercise and more resilience to flex for this grimy life, whilst a far remove from hell, is no heaven.
This old man is still alive and my what a life I am having. Knocked and bumped, but only because I am living on the high octane of reality, unsedated and fully conscious. I will come to land some day but my past so neatly archived and so carefully recorded will always be behind me, giving my future, however time limited it might be, full screen. The future is always there. Unknown and daunting yet I rush forward, still a fool with my lessons to learn. One day I might be one of those angels with their divine wisdom, but not today, for they are already dead. My life was, but still is and is hopefully yet to be.
Life isn’t a bed of roses and romance should be left in the pulpy swamps from which it is dredged. What is being acted out around me is grimy. Those visceral feelings are not pure and altruistic, but far more deep seated in a brutal survivalism. Man invented his wheel, but it has been used ever since to ride roughshod over our neighbour.
Humanity is stretched across our flaws like a thin veneer, often chipped and peeling. Social media is full of inspiring clips, much liked for they are deemed remarkable purely because an ounce care and compassion was shown. We have evolved so little since our cave dwelling times. The pictures on the wall may be cable rather than chalk, but the bloodlust is far greater than the killing of a buffalo to feed our kin.
Everywhere I look I see mass acts of greed and hate, of envy and pride, of man beating his chest to prove he is just the dominant ape. It is hate,and not heroism, that has gone viral.
So I will put down my rose tinted spectacles and see my life in the mire. The future isn’t looking good so I am going to turn off my television, leave my cave, and see if someone wants a slice of buffalo. I will find the meme inside myself and share it in the social networks of reality. It’s time for me to reinvent my wheel.
Living in the Emerald City, where life is fast, can leave the best of us feeling a little bruised and battered. The cut and thrust of life is a double edged sword of dangerous excitement. The Asperger Path, like the Yellow Brick Road, has its pitfalls so I need to be more careful with my forays.
The first thing I need to remember is my emotional armour. I am strong and capable, but if I don’t head out prepared and protected, it is inevitable that I will get hurt. A little veneer, preferably wipe clean, can keep the city at a slight remove. I’m not talking about walling myself in, but maybe I could erect a fence to chat over before I invite my neighbour in.
I also need to manage my expectations. Life isn’t actually any better here than it was in nowhere. It’s just different. It’s still allowed to live a quiet life. The hot spots are not compulsory and it’s fine to leave when I find my senses are battered rather than stimulated. Sometimes those bright lights are blinding to hide the emptiness.
Most importantly I need to remember that good people will find me. They always have and they always will. I may be a small fish in this ocean of a city but not everyone is swimming with sharks.
If this is the return to Oz, I must be patient. I have my heart and brains and even though I’m not lionhearted I have the courage I need to manage the big city life. This friend of Dorothy is in no place like home, but a little time and a few friends can make all the difference.
“To thine own self be true” would seem to be good advice, but there’s a problem. People lie and I think we probably lie more to ourselves than anyone else. We are flawed. To err is human, but to forgive is even more so.
For me honesty is king. A close friend once referred to my frightening candour. I have lived and died by the idea that honesty is the most prized of the virtues and without it most of the others fall flat.
However, with my own self, I am more lenient. I dismiss my pre-diabetic state when I have an iced coffee and tell myself that, because my sugar intake is not extreme it must be fine. I persuade myself that I am physically fit for my age despite not doing any exercise. Most damaging of all, I convince myself that my problems will resolve themselves next week, or when I move, or on that all important day hidden safely in the vagaries of the future.
Everything is not going to be all right. My life will continue to be a chaotic path of mishaps and misunderstandings. The Asperger Path is strewn with debris and those rose tinted spectacles would need to worn by the blind to think that there aren’t more hurdles ahead.
So it’s time for some honesty. I mess things up. I do it again and again. I have become the master of the new start. I leave lives behind and start afresh. So to those I have met along the way I give a happy wave. I hope you enjoyed the steps we took together. If I hurt you inadvertently, please take this as my apology. To those who are still with me, I share my love and give my thanks for a thousand kindnesses. Finally, to those I have yet to meet, as I can no longer offer honesty or perfection, please feel free to sample my beautifully flawed humanity for that is my true self.
The circus is coming to town. Life cannot be planned because things happen that are unexpected, uninvited or even unwelcome. Those of us who try to control our lives end up running around like crazy clowns. So success is never about controlling what we have, it is about managing the unexpected.
Thus life needs flexibility. So what happens to those of us who are rigid and don’t have the social malleability that most of society is born with. We change. We learn. We study the patterns and we analyse the results. It’s learnt behaviour and it’s not intuitive, but it is what we do.
We are the cognitively different, the spectrum reordered, the walkers of the Asperger Path. We bring a new perspective and a different view to life. At our best, we are breathtaking and we must learn to fit in the world and take our proper place. Being born different is my gift from the universe and I intend to make my difference make a difference.
You can be a tightrope walking trapeze artist in the circus of life or a straitjacket wearing lunatic locked in the control asylum.
Me? I’m running away to join the circus.
Is it a coincidence that I’ve been having so many coincidences lately, because if it’s not then what is it? I do hope it’s not divine intervention because I’m a devout atheist. I don’t believe god and creator. There is no divine one.
Perhaps life is just smaller than we give it credit for. We think we are rolling around on this mighty planet in the centre of the universe but in fact we are little more than a speck of space dust somewhere on the fringes of nowhere.
So my coincidences, happy as they were, are not evidence of a great divine design. They are merely testament to probability which is just a branch of maths where things add up to one.
One seems almost divine. Being neither a prime number nor a composite, one is known as unity. One is both the square of itself, it’s own square root and its factorial too. However this is neither a holy trinity nor a coincidence, it is simply how our world is constructed. It is mathematics and one is where it starts. We live in a mathematically constructed world where coincidences are part of a beautiful, complex, but very rational, order.
My Aspergers is with me always. Everywhere I go, it goes. My life is filtered through a disordered prism.
When the awkwardness hits, or relationships feel dry and unoiled, I know my Aspergers has raised its head again. I analyse what went wrong and pore over the details. I feel like a crazy, eccentric scientist because I know what I seek is simple, and yet it eludes me. My Aspergers is a source of frustration. When you know you have a flat tyre, the road still feels just as bumpy. Knowledge is good but knowledge is not the same as a solution.
But there are days when my Aspergers is almost invisible. These are the good days when I feel that I am just like everyone else. Life ticks over and Aspergers gets no credit.
Yet surely my Aspergers contributes as much to my success as my failure. My brain is still wired differently when I am being brilliant at work, funny at dinner, or helpful to a friend. It solves problems, creates solutions and makes my life, quite frankly, awesome.
I live with my Aspergers every day. All that is good about me is filtered through the same disordered prism. I am the rainbow and my life is lived on the spectrum. It’s beautiful and colourful here. Like everyone, I have good days and bad days, but every day I travel with my Aspergers.
I have talked so much about changing, I don’t think I actually noticed it happening. Yet, last night, I left a bar early, and sober, and with the same man that I had arrived with. There was a time when that didn’t happen.
For some years now, I have argued that there has been precious little temptation in my path, and that has been what’s kept me on the ‘straight’ and narrow. I can’t claim that here, for I now reside in dirty Phnom Penh with its edgy nightlife and minimal regulation. In the big bright lights and small dark bars, alcoholic ex pats mingle with drug dealing locals to produce a nightlife where everything is available, and everyone has a price.
I don’t know if I am growing up or growing old. In fictional 70s San Francisco, Armistead Maupin’s character, Mona had a law that stated “you can have a hot job, a hot apartment and a hot lover but you can’t have all three at the same time.” I don’t know if mine would qualify as “hot” but I like what I have. I hope Mona’s more content these days too.
At fifty, I am coming into my own. Because I am happy in my skin, my glass is far more than half full. So, if you think you need to change, change. Life should be an amazing place in which to live. If yours isn’t currently, then find the source of your discontentment and resolve it. We live long lives even if we only live then once. Don’t live it in misery, for happiness can be found everywhere, even in dirty Phnom Penh.
Somethings in life are chosen and others predetermined. We have choices, but they are always within parameters. You might think outside the box but climbing out of it can be harder. You can, and should, question everything, but you can only change a few things. You can’t change who you are but you can change what you do and how you do it.
My happiness is found in the doing of simple things. The joy of waking and seeing a new day, rain or shine. The love of a few good and well trusted friends. A pride in doing the things I do well. The pleasure of eating healthily and taking some daily exercise. These things keep me ticking over with a smile.
My box was quite a package. A touch of autism and a dash of cerebral palsy were combined with the proud peacock flourish of being gay. Life might have been easier, but it wasn’t and I am now wise enough to know I can’t change much about my life, but I can chose how it is lived.
So, be who you are and love yourself as you are, while allowing others the same privilege. In doing this, we choose to make those boxes a little bit easier to think in.