Something that I was often confused by growing up was people’s disinterest in things I found fascinating, interesting, or even beautiful.
I was thinking about this the other day, as my caregiver was discussing something – but I was far too distracted by the weeds on the side of road.
The way they were swaying to the breeze of the passing cars, their bright colors contrasting against the grey highway and the green grass – it just gave my heart such joy to see that I got to experience them before they were cut down.
I don’t know if it’s my ability to zero in on the smallest of details, the hyper empathy kicking in, or what it is – but my brain has an uncanny way of seeing the beauty or joy in some of the most mundane of things.
I tend to find happiness in the little things, even when dealing with inconveniences.
Oil spill in the parking lot?
You’ll have trouble pulling me away from the beautiful colors. Forget chores; look at those swirls, how they intertwine within each other and push against.
It reminds me of how people’s lives are so intermingled with one another, each one impacting another – even if they never meet.
(I’ll still panic later about the environmental aspect, though.)
A CD reflection on my wall?
I’m not moving anytime soon. Isn’t that so wonderful to see all the lights! I get a rainbow without any rain, and it’s like my own little prism.
Passing through the Scarborough castle tour in 2016 to see a bay that everyone else has seen?
No, it’s a sensory epicenter and I need to take it all in. I’m breathing in the smell of the air, the realization that I had survived all those years to that very moment – tightly holding my fiancé’s hand to keep me steady as the sound of seagulls flew above our heads.
My soul needs to take in the blue of the sky, all the possibilities of creatures hiding under the waves, the lives of those walking down the beach…
The castle itself is rich in history. Think of the stories those stones could tell – I got overwhelmed thinking of all the trauma that could’ve been etched into those walls.
I might not speak, but I can feel everything – and I feel it intensely.
The smallest things can give me immense joy: a beautiful leaf, a rock, a snoozing pet in a window.
I imagine the lives they lived or the things they’ve seen, whether literally or figuratively – wondering what experiences shaped them to where they are today. I take both happiness and solace in knowing I exist at the same time as others I care about, wriggling in excitement when I see others having a good day or expressing happiness. I am content in the sound of cat purrs, the wag of a dog’s tail, the acknowledgement from animals who will sit near me even when they don’t know me.
I love joy and adore the simple things.
But the simple things can also fill me with grief, sadness, fear: a place where terrible things have happened, seeing someone with distress, hearing and sensing the anger of others.
A grieving sigh, footage on the news, the sound of racing footsteps down the hospital hall after a code blue is announced – I’ve never been able to desensitize myself to others’ distress. I was banned from watching the news as a child for a bit because of this; I would cry at every story, because I couldn’t do anything to help.
I can feel it all, and I cannot turn it off.
For better and worse.
People often ask why we as autistics stim and move, and why we cannot simply comply.
Truth be told, it’s because my brain and body cannot comply, nor does it even need to. I exist in my own space where my brain and body are interconnected and disconnected all at once – while speech doesn’t connect like it used to due the brain injuries, all the emotion and energy flows freely through my sensory systems that I cannot contain. Sometimes it can overwhelming, but sometimes it can be beautiful.
No wonder my body demands I move and stim! To not allow myself to move goes against nature itself, for energy cannot be extinguished. I absorb and sense it all, and I must react. To not react is painful for me, and denies the very acknowledgement of life’s many experiences.
The world is simply so much, for better and worse.