I was lost. Lost so long that no one looked for me any more. Broken hearts were mended and their yearnings, thrown out like ropes to the ocean, had returned and dried in quiet forgotten corners. I had no name in those times for no one knew it and I had forgotten it myself.
My loss was a prison. I was surrounded in smooth windowless concrete. In the flawless banality I found first dread, then boredom and finally solace. The perfection of nothing transformed into a mandala to be spun in my imagination and colour was created to fill the voids. Having seen beauty in my mind that I never knew existed, I set out to find all the treasures in my soul. And so in loss, I found not only the self within but also my eternal source of love.
I named myself and saw all that I could be. I created a reality around me and lived there. Friends long lost came back to me, and in the ecstasy I ceased to worry about the line that some people believe can be drawn between imagination and truth.
Am I crazy? Perhaps, but better to madly happy than sad in sanity
Once I was blissfully unaware. I was an misfit, an oddball, an eccentric of a peculiarly English type but I thought nothing of it.
My few attempts to fit in were always just opportunities to stand out. I was a follower of fashion for example. However my “fashion-forward” sensibilities were heady when combined with my complete unawareness of the ripples I can create around me. Never thinking to look back, I sailed through the calm waters of life with the cut of my jib set jaunty.
Then they interfered. I was labelled. The very essence of who I was became the focus of others. Professionals were involved and meetings took place. People were concerned or perhaps even worried. I was placed on the Asperger Path and my life juddered to a halt.
Half the world away and here I am. The path is mine. I have owned myself and stuck two fingers up at those who told me what I could and couldn’t do. I live in a country where I don’t speak the language and my height, colour, build and beard separate me from the crowd. No one has really heard of Asperger here, let alone his blooming syndrome. We are all blissfully unaware.
Once upon a time I was a boy who believed. I believed in everything I could imagine. I would look at a drop of water hanging like a silver pendent from a velvet green, dew drenched leaf and imagine how the universe it contained within it might be. Nothing was defined for me and life was a theoretical string of adventures to savour and discover.
I am still searching and savouring. My cynicism is feigned because too much enthusiasm can leave a man looking dangerously perky in a public place. My worn veneer of worldliness is a thin parchment which can be easily pierced by the questions of an interesting and inquisitive soul. I love to sit and ruminate about all those ifs and buts and maybes that maturity should have kicked out of me. When I meet a truly flexible minds is a gymnastic pleasure.
There are those who would accuse me of not living in reality and not shouldering responsibilities. I can see that belief that there is a path and I am not progressing along it at a satisfactory pace. I have made decisions in my life. I took myself on a detour and, having bypassed all commonly defined notions of success, briefly found myself lost in an existentialist neverland. I chose not to turn back and I faced the consequences of my actions and found I was no longer lost.
Now I live my life free of many impositions or comforts. I have no partner, no home, no plans, no future, no children and no employment contract. I have taken the road far less travelled and beaten my own way along it. It’s no lonelier than the information superhighway fast tracking path I see others on but it is less busy and my low speed limit is rarely exceeded.
I’m not lost and I’m not Peter Pan. I am still that boy who still believes life is best lived as a string of adventures.
I am bed bound. Some days I wake up and I lie in my sheets formulating what I could and what I should do. I create hypothetical chains of events so detailed I feel like they have actually happened. They haven’t because I am trapped on my mattress. Procrastination, once it sets in, leaves me rigor mortis flexible and can last till well past sunset.
Some days are post procrastination days. The guilt pumps through my veins like a papal adrenaline and I savagely rip through tasks ensuring each is ticked off an ethereal list. They may not be done well or thoroughly but my list is completed and my mea culpa conscience salved. I head for my bed to await the sleep of the ticked list righteous.
I peak and trough like a wild mountain pig. My life isn’t lived it is clung to and survived. Precarious feels like home and a rollercoaster would be a busman’s holiday. My tightrope walking skills, afflicted by an inate inability to balance, mean I often plummet. Sadly in my circus there’s rarely a passing acrobat to trapeze me to safety.
Today is a rare day. I woke up and instantly got up. I showered before I did anything. I didn’t catch up on my word games, my writing, my emails or friends that I no longer see on FaceBook. I didn’t debate breakfast or ponder lunch. I didn’t meander through endlessly negotiated ‘just one more cup of tea then I will’ moments. My diem was carpéd. As a result I feel vindicated. I am a champion. I am a teacher whose books are marked and whose lessons are planned. Today I’m not sinking and I’m not falling, I am flying through the air and I feel amazing. By the end of this momentous day I’ll be exhausted and no doubt by nine I’ll be thinking about sleep and be bed bound.
The time to write
A poem down for you
So for now
It’s just a note
And that will have to do
I was thinking of writing a letter to the fifteen year old me but I realised that I would not have read it. I thought I was so cool, so knowing but in reality I was too gauche and dull to be open to the wonder of life.
I could write a letter to future me when I have lost my mental capacity to make decisions. However what would be the point of telling future senile me that the life I can’t remember was great.
So I am going to write something to you. And here it is. Brace yourself.
Today I opened the curtains and saw the dawn. Even insomnia is a gift if you grab it and embrace it. Mother Nature was flaunting her beauty for the crowing cocks while most of the world was oblivious. I could have spent my hour grumpily bemoaning to my pillow that sleep is a necessity but instead I did something. I seized the day and made my lemonade and a whole host of gee life is great and amazing clichés.
Fifteen year old me was too stupid and maybe ninety year old me will be senile. However, right now I’m fifty years old and living in the moment. Why don’t you come and join me.
“Whatever makes her happy on a Saturday night” sang Suede once upon a misspent youth I squandered many years ago. However I don’t think Brett and the boys ever thought that going out on a Saturday night could be so tragic and terrible.
In London there has been yet another attack and yet more loss of life. So tonight it won’t “be okay like everyone says” it won’t “be alright and ever so nice”. It has been carnage and chaos on the streets of Britain’s capital and far away from home I worry about the people I love.
However, what happens after an event like this is what is important. If you allow hate to be planted in your heart then the war on terror has been lost. Hate and fear are what terrorists want. They seek to divide the world. At a time like this, I hope that people will look for commonality and not difference. The diverse people of Britain are united in a kingdom where we share more values than we realise. We want to live in peace and go to work and get on with the banal and humdrum daily activities of being a mum, dad, sister, brother, daughter or son. We want to build a life to share with the people we know and love.
So on this Saturday night I won’t be singing to Suede. I will return to the song, that for me is a relevant today as when it was written because “we have got to find a way to bring some understanding here today”. Forty six years later I still agree with Marvin Gaye.
War is not the answer for only love can conquer hate
The Kingdom of Wonder is how Cambodia promotes itself. My friend calls it the kingdom of blunder while I generally opt for the kingdom of wondering. One thing is certain, life isn’t predictable.
Today is certainly not going quite to plan. All that was supposed to be happening is not. That’s usually a red rag to my inner bull. Yet the china is intact in the shop. So here I am in limbo and goodness knows I’m not built for that kind of flexibility.
My flat isn’t ready just yet so I cannot move in. Until then I have to live across the hall. All my dreams of spending my Saturday making my new home look just a little bit less unloved and a bit more ‘me’ have been shelved.
So here I am in the empty old flat cleaning what I have left because I can clean what I am going to. The bathroom has a baking soda freshness it never had when I lived it and surfaces are so free of dust that I realise my flat wasn’t subtly grey and was just a bit grubby. I move in, I clean then I do the same when I move out. In between the dirt that live in is mine and I am happy in that.
So here I am limboing like I have a flexibility many would confirm I haven’t possessed when under duress in the past. Life isn’t quite going to plan. I haven’t lost my temper or shouted at anyone. In Cambodia, even I have become unpredictable
I’m feeling sad because across the world my family is in trouble. I’m not sure how other minorities feel but for me, every lesbian is my sister and every gay man, my brother. I am a part of a great big family and I hope that we have more than oppression in common.
The gay movement has always been at its finest under duress. We come together and fight for our freedoms and rights. We put aside our many differences and we are brave in the face of adversity. I am European and my expectations are high. I demand respect and expect equality. I want the freedom to live and love as I wish with minimal intervention from state, religion and judiciary. I have fought in many ways and can see the benefit of my labours. The rainbow is our symbol because because through the tears of oppression comes the sunshine of liberation.
The world is a multi faceted place. My brothers and sisters lead different lives in different parts of the world and their struggles for freedom are not yet as advanced. In places it feels like we are moving backward. Would I be brave like if I lived in Russia, Uganda or Saudi Arabia? The truth is I don’t know.
My family is having a tough time but hang in there brothers and sisters because one day the sun is going to shine and we will see that rainbow all across the world.