Looking out at the world, I see buildings and cars and people. People milling about, living their lives, doing what they do. They remind me of ants in little colonies, little communities, doing what needs to be done, because it needs to be done.
I’m sure they’re intelligent and cognizant–the ants, I mean. OK, I’m kidding, kind of. The people probably are, too. But do they stop and think about what it’s all for?
I can only speak for myself, and I know that I’m like a glass house, fragile with many rooms and facets, the separating walls of which are fragile and wrought with illusion and confusion.
The popular phrase is being “on the outside looking in”. Even my mobile’s autosuggest understands this and helpfully offers to finish my sentence like a longtime life partner.
That phrase, however, does not quite speak to me. I’m inverted, after all.
My phrase is to be “on the inside looking out”. That is how I have lived most of my life, as an autistic person in a nonautistic world.
I can never quite be a part of their world. I’m an outlier, a non-ant in the ant colony. I don’t quite understand the job I’m supposed to do, the member that I’m supposed to be.
So, maybe to be the outlier is my job. To add variety where there might have otherwise been sameness. To throw a bump, a hill, or a mountain into the serene, flat, plain landscape.
And it’s not about me: maybe that’s what autism itself is. Adding color splashes to black and white. Adding curves to lines. Throwing blips onto the radar. Maybe that’s what it’s all about.
That’s not to say that black and white is not beautiful in itself. Landscapes of the plains are also quite lovely.
But if everyone operated the same way, humanity might become monotonous. It might become too predictable. If there’s one thing that nature has taught us, it’s that it loves chaos. It has its natural order of things, its laws and its constants, but I think that every so often, it needs to be amused. Nature has a playful, practical joker element.
And maybe each of us on the spectrum is the starstuff of That Stuff.
Even if that means falling outside the bell curve, or even blowing the curve. Even if that means making adjustments. Even if it adds up to feeling disconnected, as the outsider that I am. Even if it means living in this dreamy internal world that I know.
I’ve realized that it’s OK to be an outsider. Ant colonies are busy and mundane anyway. Being autistic means that I already am where some nonautistic people try to be: in my mind, in a state of mindfulness. I can slip out of that and lose sight of my big picture, but my default position is to live in the meditative state that others find themselves taking classes or reading books to achieve.
I’m not saying that my way, my default position is better. I’m not sure that the universe favors one way of being over another.
But mine is what I know. I occasionally long for a momentary taste of a nonautistic experience, which I think is more the result of a near-universal human tendency to desire that which we cannot have.
I might be inside looking out, but maybe I’m not actually so different after all. 🙂
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(Image Credit: Oliver Morris)