Every Little Thing She Does – Part 6
An Adult Aspergers Experience of Living in a Distracting World
Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’ doesn’t make any sense. – Rumi
It feels to me sometimes, as I said in the previous installment, that “all the world is my enemy,” a “boundless realm of Distracting Sensations and Expectant Others,” a land of Outerlands Zombies from whom I must escape to my Innerlands, my fortified shelter. It’s as though the world is an enormous library filled with yacking, running, noisy patrons and I, sitting in my cubicle, bothering no one and trying to focus on my research, must spend my days shushing them.
If I’m neurologically prone to being distracted, to getting “knocked out of the story,” then what is it I’m being distracted from? What is the story I’m in, or wanting to be in, or trying to create, out of which I can get “knocked”?
I’m trying to get to Rumi’s promised field.
In a way, I think I’ve been searching for Rumi’s field for most of my life, just as Dorothy Gale longed for “a place where there isn’t any trouble.” I’ve pushed through the mainstream of thought and knowledge and belief, and sought the distant shores beyond “right” and “wrong” – the edges, the fringe, the “high weirdness” – not simply to assert my right to be who I was, but because I sensed, I believed, that from that vantage point at the edge of the normal curve, I could view and experience the maelstrom of truth and experience and reality from a spot “far above the fray.”
Standing above the fray, I might finally feel safe.
But it wasn’t just the constant low-level assault of sensory inputs I wanted to feel safe from, though those are significant. It was the presence of other human beings that felt the most unsettling. Unlike the crows, dogs, cats, squirrels, cows, deer, chickens, raccoons, sheep, opossums, horses, chickadees, and rabbits I’ve encountered as I’ve walked through this world, human beings come with a confusing set of acquired stories and unquestioned assumptions, with faces that can cover up their thoughts, words that do not match their feelings, and behaviors that do not always follow the rational rules of logic or self-interest or social-reciprocity.
Though I have deficits in the realm of being able to read human beings face-to-face, it also feels true to say that human beings are the animal most practiced in the art of dissembling. But whether that’s true or not, I came here knowing that there was also more to the story. I could sense the vast and beautiful potential of the human animal, and loved them for that, even if I was disappointed by how few of them seemed interested in exploring that realm. I remember, back in my freshman year of college, explaining to the woman who would become my first wife, that, “on the whole, I don’t much like human beings.” Yet when I sat with one of my gurus, back during the making of What a Way to Go, he reduced me to sobs by pointing out that I could not possibly be making such a film without harboring a deep love for my fellow humans.
What pieces of work were human beings, and yet how difficult for me to understand them. I knew from my own experience that I was filled to the brim with feelings and thoughts and complexities and contradictions, and knew that such things shaped my life in every way, and underlied my every word and action. I could reason that at least some of the humans around me must be similar in this regard, and could very often sense the energies that surged within them, even if my interpretation of what those energies represented was hit-or-miss. But I didn’t know how to make them reveal themselves in a way that I could find peace in their presence. It felt like I lived amongst erratic, clumsy robots who seemed unwilling, or unable, to tell me of their programming, such that I could understand why they moved as they did.
I wanted to meet people in Rumi’s field, in a place beyond all the complexities, limitations, and contradictions of language, story, culture, and assumption. I wanted to lie down with them in that soft, tranquil grass and stare up at the clouds and the stars, and speak with them as chickadees or horses might speak, of our felt experiences, our dreams and our fears, our soft, wounded bodies, and of our shared-reality, and in a manner far beyond the usual discourse of judgment and belief, argument, persuasion, and defense, but in the spirit of open dialogue, the telling of the truths, and the collective search for clarity, understanding, and wisdom.
That’s the research I’ve been doing in my cubicle: to try and understand these strange creatures I walk amongst, to find my own way to the sort of self-revelation I seek in others, and to seek to more fully understand the factors that keep individuals, cultures, and entire paradigms from lying peacefully in that soft grass. I’ve questioned everything I could think to question, with much more remaining to do, seeking always to know the “what’s so of what’s so,” trying to understand “what’s really going on.” I’ve sought to meet “that man behind the curtain” and hear his or her story. Perhaps because I hoped that if only I found the right wizard, he or she might take me back home to Kansas.
I needed to lie in that grass, you see, a place so “over the rainbow” that I might find, finally, the peace I knew was possible. It felt like Rumi’s field was the planet I’d come from. Like the signs say on Maine highways, living beyond “right” and “wrong” was “the way life should be.”
So I built my Zombie-proof fortress of routines and filled my closet with identical suits, reducing the distractions as much as was possible while I tasked my intellect with trying to make sense of other human beings, and of why my life amongst them felt so difficult and painful.
And beside me for much of that journey has been Sally, my own personal “confusing person” and “professional distraction.” Because Sally, despite being so often so “wrong,” had been exploring her beautiful human potential far longer than I had. And she knew of pathways to Rumi’s field that I had not taken.
(Part Seven Coming Soon)