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January 9, 2016:  Afternoon I cannot remember within which television show or movie the following insight came to me, but the quote I recall within a pointed conversation was "The difference between us is that you believe you have time." From the loss of friends to AIDS and the loss of pets to whom I was even more emotionally attached, I long ago gave up presuming that there will always be more opportunities in the future or that time and energy are so abundant that some of it can be wasted on "small talk" and/or meaningless activities. The down side of this, perhaps obviously, is that I am thereby rendered uncomfortably intense in relation to those who prefer a less strenuous and more superficial way of living. I simply respond that each is entitled to make his or her own choice--and don't let the door hit your behind on the way out. I cannot unlearn the value of each moment entrusted to me. January 9, 2016:  Evening I find myself increasingly tempted to boycott Facebook, simply because I don't always have the energy to deal with its polarized and duplicitous conversations. A
certain group wishes to play "elephant in the living room," ignoring the obvious falseness of their claims that "everything is fine"--which is clearly a lie and I don't like being the recipient of lies on a daily basis (which is why I limit my exposure to news media). A group with a contrasting perspective seems to thrive on debate and competition between extreme statements, the way a thrill-seeker will do practically *anything* to create an adrenaline rush. Somewhere between the two, I recognize that there are serious problems within the world around me which absolutely must be addressed, but I strive for holistic, inclusive, integrated, and wise solutions in every way I can and frequently find myself very alone in doing so--which is ultimately exhausting. Each individual is certainly free to choose whatever he or she wishes for the dimensions and boundaries of his or her own life experience. What they are not free to do, is to tell me that they're doing one thing, when all evidence points in the opposite direction. As has often been said, "Your actions are so loud that I can't hear what you're saying." Nonetheless, we live within a time that is screaming desperately for healing and resolution in a huge number of areas and ignoring those cries is not, in my opinion, a legitimate option. My ongoing frustration is more or less summed up within the time-worn "Serenity Prayer:" "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." Sometimes that step of acceptance, however, is inseparable from an enormous amount of emotional pain. January 10, 2016:  Morning I have never intended to be an anomaly or to stick out in any way within social situations. Rather, my intention has always been to live with integrity and to embrace truth in every way I can. In most cases, unfortunately, this has placed me at odds with the often-duplicitous world around me. Those who wish for a more amended version of reality often describe me as too intense because they generally prefer to sugar-coat or white-wash everything around them. If one knows the warmth of sunshine or the beauty of a night blanketed with stars, such modification is rendered completely unnecessary. Additionally, I find such practices (sugar-coating, white-washing, or euphemistically misrepresenting) to be dishonest and consequently objectionable. In the ritual garb of Sister Who I have sometimes been accused of being a drag queen, but only by people who do not understand an important distinction: the goal of drag queens is glamour; the goal of Sister Who, conversely, is the discovery or expression of empowering meaning, often conveyed through extensive use of symbols. Specifically because deeper meaning is among my most basic priorities and values, it is an attack upon my very soul within those thankfully rare instances that I am accused of being superficial, conformist, or the embodiment of a category that ignores the unique, specific, and detailed truth of who and what I am. As much as I try to respect those who choose to live their lives in such ways, I emphatically and adamantly refuse to "play along." I am content to have a smaller circle of close friends, if such intensity is too objectionable to the rest. It is for this reason that I also sometimes need to withdraw from social situations that I experience as seriously lacking in depth. I find such interactions to be a peculiar game that wastes the limited number of unspeakably precious moments of life that each of us is given and I have no hesitation about declaring to anyone and everyone who needs to hear: I'm not playing. I choose to truly live instead, for as long as I am allowed (or required) by Godde to do so. January 10, 2016:  Evening I have always been unusually self-aware, which is why every day begins and ends with a moment or two of wrestling with the depth of "why."  Why did the day include the struggles and pain that it did; why do I persist when I'm standing too close to my own experience to have any idea why my efforts matter to anyone at all; why do I cling to a hope that tomorrow will indeed (somehow, perhaps magically or miraculously) be a better day?  In a little less than eight hours my alarm clock will sound again and I will lie in bed for a few moments, sometimes for as much as half an hour, trying to think of how I can make the world better within the day that is beginning; how I can deal with the tidal wave of problems and challenges bearing down upon me so that against all odds I survive; how can I sufficiently narrow my focus so that I can move from one specific task to the next without trying to embrace them all at once--which would be so overwhelming that it could create temporary paralysis?  There are perhaps a thousand ways to describe it and it may not be like anyone else's experience, but in a very limited way, this is a representation of my experience as a man with autism.  Yet in spite of all of the questions, I do make a point of honestly embracing whatever my life includes, of persisting even when doing so is irrational, of clinging to hope even when it hurts to do so, of doing whatever I can to make the world better because the alternative makes even less sense, of dealing with too many demands one at a time, and of walking the path of my inescapably unique life one step at a time.  I do these things because I can.  There will come a day when that is no longer true, but I hope it is as far into the future as possible, because there is so very much I need to get done in the meantime. March 20, 2016:  Summary My life at present persists in encompassing an inordinate amount of struggle, in spite of my best ongoing efforts to create resolution.  Numerous acquaintances and friends have expressed a wish for me to be happy, but I think what most of them fail to realize is that I am most happy when I am being Sister Who--since this is the multi-dimensional lens incorporating integrated androgeny and inclusivity, as well as body, mind, and spirit, through which all of my best qualities are most empowered to be shared and my life consequently has all the meaning and purpose it needs.  Anything that gets in the way of that or that limits manifestation of that lens, I experience as being adversarial.  May 5, 2016:  Voice When I was first diagnosed at age 50 with high-functioning autism, I was finally able to understand many of the relational struggles I've encountered throughout life.  As time went on, however, I experienced great difficulty in finding any other men in a similar age range who, like myself, were also gay.  I mentioned the problem to a woman who prided herself on being very knowledgeable about all things related to autism (I have since found her information to be less universally applicable than she claimed) and she said the only autistic gay men she knew, were also agoraphobic and thus not interested in meeting or collaborating with strangers outside of their homes.  It was never determined whether she could facilitate an introduction within their homes, but I'm somewhat concerned to now find myself slipping into a similar pattern. Virtually everything outside of my home is predisposed to being overwhelming, so at present I pretty much only leave the house when I have a specific reason to do so.  In order to avoid becoming altogether homeless, I endured a move two- thousand miles across the country, in order to secure a barely affordable living situation.  Unfortunately I find the people of this region profoundly dishonest and duplicitous and the only other autistic person I've been able to meet here is so concerned about a societal stigma associated with being autistic that he goes to great lengths to prevent anyone from finding out about his Asperger's diagnosis.  Thankfully he is sufficiently high-functioning to meet with some success in his attempts.  While I respect his choice, however, it is not my choice. Unless or until a sufficient number of people are open and honest about living with autism, the surrounding neurotypical community is not going to learn and will consequently never become supportive of this alternative way of being-- which would thus encourage autistics to remain withdrawn, reclusive, and even agoraphobic.  While there is clearly a certain pragmatism in remaining discrete, I find that it enables the problem of social disconnection--which seems to be a primary dimension within which autism really is experienced as a disability rather than being simply a different way of relating to the world. So, in words borrowed from Harvey Milk, I encourage everyone to "come out, come out, wherever you are" and choose to be yourself in the best way you can, rather than resigning yourself to being no more than a reflection of others' ignorance and condescension.  Neurotypicals need to be educated and if we don't do it, who will?  No one understands what it means to be autistic better than autistics themselves, so it is imperative that we find our voice and use it. October 16, 2016:  Focus I persist in being baffled at the extremes to which people will go to immerse themselves in distractions, as if truth and honesty were adversarial and undesirable qualities.  In contrast, I remain ever aware of Emily’s question within the third act of Thornton Wilder’s play, “Our Town,” which I have paraphrased as “Doesn’t anyone know they live while they do it?”  How tragic to reach the point of one’s life being over and realize that one has never truly lived and that there is now no more time left to do so.  Consequently, I strive to know that I live while I do it, but find that this requires me to tolerate the sadness of each moment slipping away into the past as quickly as I experience it within the present.  Nonetheless, I am grateful for the ability to protest, “Yes, but I was there when it happened,” conceding also that I gave the moment the very best that I could, within the limitations of my strength and understanding at that particular time.  Still, I often find myself ever after regretting that I did not have more strength and greater resources, so that I could have done better than I did.  Perhaps one of the reasons so many people avoid awareness, is that they have not found ways to forgive themselves for all of the shadows that holistic awareness inevitably includes.  Even if I never find ways to completely forgive myself for my weaknesses, however, I persist in being grateful for all the awareness with which I am blessed.  Anything less would be less than fully living the life I’ve been given to live--and I only have just so much time to do it. December 17, 2016:  Loss within a Season of Giving I continue to be mystified by how committed so many people are to being wounded, broken, and uncivilized, even when possibilities of healing are made available to them.  An further unfortunate effect of this is the variety of ways that kind and loving persons around them must either leave them to the consequences of their own choices or tolerate terrible extremes of abuse.  I persist in my understanding, however, that life is short and there is little wisdom (unless one truly feels divinely called to such a peculiar ministry) in offering one’s self as a whipping post upon which the wounded can further vent their brokenness, grief, and pain.  Yet such venting has never shown itself to be anything more than enabling to still further brokenness.  With generally the best of intentions, the martyr provides a soul upon which the brokenness feeds, gaining strength as it does so.  A peculiar school of thought speculates that at some point the brokenness will be so satiated that it implodes upon itself, but I question whether any individual has that much substance to offer to the allegedly healing process (successful healing being confirmed only by the event of implosion).  No matter how much deep contemplation I have applied to this sad chain of events, I am yet to be convinced of this being a truly wise course of action; the cost is simply too high. My choice, having delivered whatever messages, offered whatever assistance, or shared whatever insights I am able, has more often been to allow greater space for the tortured souls to work out their salvation and healing at their own pace and according to whatever chronological sequences they choose.  It may be that the “seeds” I have planted will take a while to germinate and sprout--by which time I may be in some distant land, sowing the seeds of yet more positive possibilities among other individuals there.  The faith I must thus maintain without lapsing into narcissism, is that life is wiser than I and will find its own way in its own time.  Nonetheless, it would bring me great joy to make a return visit so that I may participate in the celebration of any soul’s emergence into a greater beauty and empowerment than it ever imagined possible.  In the meantime, however, it seems I must accept whatever loss is necessary to move myself beyond the reach of certain individuals’ brokenness, hopefully thereby also ceasing to be a distraction or an obstacle in relation to their own perhaps painfully slow progression. It is ultimately not a matter of winners and losers, but rather of finding ways for all to truly be winners.