How a man on the Spectrum learns to live

Posts tagged ‘Ballad’

I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore!

As long as you have some form of love in your life, then you're already a winner.

As long as you have some form of love in your life, then you’re already a winner.

31_sun-and-cloud-photos

Have you ever felt like your life is written in song lyrics? If so, what song is it, and why does it mean what it does? Is it about your pain or about your joy? Well, the song that best describes my life right now is the REO Speedwagon rock ballad “Can’t Fight This Feeling”. This is because I met someone very special when I least expected it. Since then, the resulting swell of emotions and feelings have made my head spin! I’ve never felt this connected to any woman before. She has become my girlfriend, and she is also much more than I ever could have imagined.

We met at a convention I was attending. There was a dance in full swing and I noticed a girl at the volunteer area table. There was something uniquely appealing about her, something attractive that radiated from within. After I introduced myself we both listened to the music that the band was playing. I noticed her mouthing the words of many American Jazz standards and my heart skipped a beat! I felt like she knew something that I thought only I knew! It was a feeling I couldn’t deny.

Within minutes I could feel my inhibitions and fears disappearing, so I took a leap of faith and asked her to dance. She knew what I was asking her because she finished my sentence with me and said yes! I felt a growth of confidence and self-esteem that I’d never felt before. My nervous tension, born out of my Asperger’s Syndrome and Social Anxiety, began to melt away as we danced and I stopped caring too much about what other people were thinking. Somehow I knew that I could trust this girl and be myself around her. I believed that she was going to profoundly change my life.

As the dance was winding down, we said good night and parted ways, but that wasn’t the end of it. Regretfully, I didn’t run into her on the last day of the convention. I felt a pang of disappointment, until I discovered, that night, that she had looked up my name on social media. I immediately responded back and established a connection. This used to be difficult for me. I didn’t think anyone would ever understand the deeper parts of me, and it used to be very hard to open up to people because I’d been hurt before and was too scared to put myself in a vulnerable position. Yet, as I began to see her more often, I found myself being more and more honest with her. She was embracing my core traits as if she had known me for years! I began realizing that we were going to enrich each other’s lives in so many ways.

We’ve been seeing each other for more than two months now. The longer we’re together, the more we discover how much we have in common. In each other’s company, we’re a safe zone of open and honest communication that enhances our trust of one another. I feel like I’ve fallen in love with my best friend! We understand each other on so many levels and have bonded over so many experiences that its like our most impossible dreams and desires have come true! I don’t feel like I’m someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, I’m just a man who’s finally learned how to be in love. She has brought a new level of joy and fulfillment to my life that I’ve never had with any other woman. We love each other wholeheartedly and our lives have become a song; and like the song says, “I can’t fight this feeling anymore“!

Today’s musical inspiration is, of course, REO Speedwagon with “Can’t Fight This Feeling“.

Just The Way You Are

"I think music in itself is healing.  It's an explosive expression of humanity.  It's something we are all touched by.  No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music"- Billy Joel

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music”- Billy Joel

Once again, Billy Joel helps me to say what’s in my heart, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. This will be my final post for 2013 and I’m glad I can end the year writing about love and music: two of the great cornerstones of my life. One of his most beautiful ballads is “Just the Way You Are”, and it perfectly describes how I feel about romance. This song helps me speak when words are insufficient.

Don’t go changing, to try and please me; you never let me down before. I don’t imagine you’re too familiar, and I don’t see you anymore. I would not leave you, in times of trouble, we never could have come this far. I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times, I’ll take you just the way you are. In life, there’s no guarantees, but I’ve learned to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. I can’t back out of a commitment I’ve made with someone I care for, it doesn’t sit well with me. My word is my bond and I do my best to uphold it. I’ve always felt that true love is work that shouldn’t feel like a job. There will be times when I don’t feel like communicating my feelings, but someone who truly loves me will be able to see through whatever walls I put up. Knowing that I can do the same for her is also reassuring to me.

I need to know that you will always be the same old someone that I knew. Oh, what will it take till you believe in me, the way that I believe in you? I said I love you and that’s forever, and this I promise from the heart. I couldn’t love you any better, I love you just the way you are. I’ve discovered that how a person feels about someone can change on a daily basis. But as long as you remember why you love and respect them at your core, there’s no doubt that you’ll stay close to them.

The past two-plus years have been full of self-discovery and hope for me; I look forward to sharing it all with my past, present, and future supporters. There have been many changes in my life; writing this blog has helped me understand them and remember my true self. By giving my journey with Autism a voice, I feel as though I’ve been able to provide hope and understanding about living on the Autism Spectrum. In the coming year, I will continue to shine a light on my story. I feel optimistic because I’ve found a new rhythm and there’s someone special who’s seen it in me.

I’ve been in touch with this girl for several months now. Recently, there’s been a growing chemistry and connection between us. I’ve found it easy for us to be loyal and sincere with each other, and I’m optimistic because we’ve connected on a deep level of friendship and love without even trying. This song reminds me of what I need most from a woman and what I have to offer her. As long as we remember why we’re together, we’ll have no problem being close. I’ll be proud to say to her: “no matter what, I love you just the way you are”.

My final musical inspiration for this year is, of course, Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are”. Here is an amazing live performance clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT4A2Ox6hRM

I Can Heal the Pain

George Michael Paul McCartney

Recently, I rediscovered one of my favorite songs of all time. It’s a classic ballad sung by George Michael in 1988 and re-recorded as a duet with Sir Paul McCartney in 2006; the title is “Heal the Pain”. I love it because not only is it a beautiful acoustic love song, but it speaks to my core being as a potential lover.

The first verse is an opening up of two hearts and a reassurance that leads to the supportive first chorus. “How can I help you? (Please let me try to) I can heal the pain that you’re feeling inside. Whenever you want me, you know that I will be waiting for the day that you say you’ll be mine“.

The second verse is an inquisitive one where the singer realizes that his lover can’t see the good he is trying to do, but he’s not giving up hope. “Won’t you let me in? Let this love begin! Wont you show me your heart now? I’ll be good to you…I can make this thing true…show me that heart right now!”

The lyrics of the bridge resonate with me the most. They speak the most directly to my heart. “Who needs a lover that can’t be a friend? Something tells me I’m the one you’ve been looking for. Oh, if you ever should see him again, won’t you tell him you’ve found someone who gives you more? Someone who will protect you, love and respect you. All those things that he never could bring to you…like I do, or rather I would. Won’t you show me your heart like you should?”

Why do I love this song so much? Because the words are honest, caring, supportive, and express exactly what’s in my heart. Ever since I had my first crush, I felt something that I didn’t want to lose ever again. I didn’t know how to articulate it because I was still a child who didn’t know that he had Asperger’s Syndrome. As I grew and was diagnosed, I learned how to communicate my feelings to people who I trusted. I was blessed with a supportive environment that enabled me to get in touch with my emotions. Considering that it’s hard for Aspies to express emotions easily, especially if they’re males living in a society that teaches them that emotion is weakness, I’ve done well for myself in this respect.

I’ve had my share of difficulty with relationships in the past, but since when does a man ever get it right the first time? What I do know is that I will be a safe haven for a woman who loves herself enough to love me. I will do my damnedest to be her best friend, her strongest support, and her shoulder to cry on. I know that I was meant to be a great lover and God, it hurts to not be able to show it to someone! However, when I play this song, I remember who I am deep inside and what I have to offer to a woman. My spirits are lifted and I know that I’m exactly who I was meant to be thanks to the music and lyrics of George Michael and Sir Paul McCartney.

Today’s musical inspiration is, of course, George Michael and Sir Paul McCartney, singing “Heal the Pain”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0afIwq6QSg

The Man in the Mirror

Michael-jackson-quote

One of the best things I ever did was to look in the mirror with a critical eye. This was difficult for me, being born on the Autism Spectrum, because I didn’t want to admit my own faults. But somewhere along the way, I found the courage to really look inside myself and use the critical thinking skills I was developing in college. When I finally was able to admit that I needed to improve myself, but didn’t know what to do or how to do it, I received a lot of support and encouragement that was essential for me to feel validated. I discovered that I was in the process of doing something that not many people, let alone Aspies, have the courage to attempt. That is, to admit weakness and faults, and become a better person because of them, not in spite of them. This is exactly what Michael Jackson asked people to do in his groundbreaking song “Man in the Mirror”. His words have great meaning because I was learning to live by example before I even understood the song. Knowing that I had to start changing myself to have a more positive outlook was one of the best lessons I ever learned from music.

When the song begins, Michael tells the world what he’s doing and why he’s doing it. “I’m gonna make a change for once in my life. It’s gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference, gonna make it right! As I turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat, this wind is blowing my mind. I see the kids in the streets with not enough to eat. Who am I to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs“. I needed to learn empathy for other people, which is very difficult for someone on the Spectrum. Of course, I also needed to not to become depressed or overwhelmed by the world’s problems. The best thing I could do was to find out where I could make a difference in my own community and be happy that I changed at least one person’s life.

The bridge then leads to the famous chorus. “That’s why I want you to know: I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer, if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change!”. It was Ghandi who said it best when he said “be the change you wish to see in the world“. These lyrics were telling me that I needed to admit my shortcomings and not be ashamed of them anymore. By focusing more on my abundance of certain skills rather than my lack of other skills, I could be more positive and aware of the world around me.

The second verse and bridge feel like they were written for someone on the Spectrum, like me. “I’ve been a victim of a selfish kind of love, it’s time that I realize…that there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan. Could it be really me, pretending that they’re not alone? A willow deeply scarred, somebody’s broken heart, and a washed-out dream. They follow the pattern of the wind, you see, ’cause they’ve got no place to be. That’s why I’m starting with me!” I was guilty of being self-centered, desperately wanting people to notice me. Even when I was at my lowest points and wanted to take my own life, I was still thinking in a selfish way, not realizing how much I would hurt my loved ones by doing that. Today, I feel that no matter what happens, I can love myself enough to give back to others. I learned to love who I am and I’m able to share that joy with others and not keep it hidden inside. When the chorus repeats and goes into the breakdown, the song ends with Michael’s important final words: “Make that change”.

When I listened to this song critically, I discovered that I was doing the right thing all along and didn’t even know it. It was a beautiful moment when I realized that one of my musical idols was telling me exactly how I needed to grow when I was in the middle of doing so. I feel like I can look at myself and say that I have come a long way from being completely unaware. I am proud that I can tell people, especially other Aspies, how I learned to live passionately and engaged and that they can do the same. In order to change the world, I needed to change myself first. So, what do you see when you look in the mirror?

Today’s musical inspiration is Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PivWY9wn5ps

To Be Young At Heart

My grandmother holds me for the first time before Christmas ,1981

My grandmother holds me for the first time before Christmas, 1981

To be “young at heart”…what does it really mean? Being spry and able-bodied? Possessing an energetic spirit? Well, I feel like it’s the choice to continue growing and learning rather than becoming stagnant and slowly decaying. It’s a choice to give in to despair or to embrace hope. A choice to merely exist or to be fully living. It’s a state of being that took me some time to embrace completely, but I’m living so much better because I did so.

This is a feeling I’ve had for the past several years. It started after I made a conscious decision to eat healthy and commit to regular exercise. Doing that helped me to gain a new physical fitness that has greatly reduced my risk for disease and infirmity. The feeling continued as I discovered new music while revisiting all of my old favorites. There’s a great American standard that’s been done by several singers, but it always conveys the same message. It’s become more relevant to me as I’ve discovered my new lease on life. It’s the classic tune “Young at Heart”.

It starts out at different tempos, depending on who sings it, but the lyrics are always the same. “Fairy Tales can come true. It can happen to you, if you’re young at heart. For it’s hard, you will find, to be narrow of mind…if you’re young at heart.” Simply put, when someone’s mind is balanced in realism and not dwelling on empty fantasy or pessimism, they gain the drive to work for what really matters to them. Of course, the work has to be done; I’m doing the work to raise awareness about what it’s like living with Asperger’s Syndrome.

The second half of the first verse continues with “You can go to extremes with impossible schemes…you can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams! And life gets more exciting with each passing day, and love is either in your heart or on its way.” I feel that if someone still believes in impossible dreams, they will pave the way for more realistic dreams to become reality. Even if things don’t turn out the way they were planned, there’s still a lesson to be learned once the emotional sting has lessened. I’ve had my share of false starts and disappointments and it hurt when they occurred, but I didn’t lose my desire to make a difference in the world and show that I really mattered. I’ve embraced a new role: something I never could have imagined, but I’m excited that it’s becoming a reality. Now I know how to make a difference in the best way that I can.

The second verse is sung twice, bringing a special message to the listener when the song ends. “Don’t you know that it’s worth every treasure on Earth…to be young at heart. For as rich as you are, it’s much better, by far…to be young at heart. And if you should survive to 105…look at all you’ll derive out of being alive! And here is the best part: you’ll have a head start, if you are among the very young at heart.”

What this means is, there’s a difference between being rich and being wealthy. To be rich is to be secure in material possessions and money; to be wealthy is to have a sense of abundance in all areas of life, external and internal. Case in point: Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston were very rich. But towards the end of their lives, they were not wealthy because they had lost sight of what it meant to live a life of abundance. All of their money and fame could not buy the fulfillment they so desperately needed.

I’ve learned that having a passion for wealth is not being greedy. It means craving a life that is full and overflowing with abundance that is emotional, physical, and spiritual as well as financial. Material wealth means nothing if doesn’t enhance the owner’s life and the lives of others. Knowing that I have the ability and resources to give something back to people and enrich their lives is my definition of wealth and success.

I’m looking forward to the success of our family business: San Diego Scan and Share. I don’t know what it will look like, but I’m filled with a feeling of purpose that has given me a zest for life even stronger than what I felt in high school. As such, I feel more alive and aware than I was when I was a teenager. My health is great, I have a new lease on life, and a purpose that gives me hope and energy. Now I wonder, what makes you feel young at heart?

Today’s musical inspiration is the American classic “Young at Heart” sung by living legend Tony Bennett & Bluegrass singer Shawn Colvin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iA9LHdSZLw

I Can See Clearly Now!

You know, it’s more than just a song title; it’s a state of being that I’ve been experiencing for the past few months.  Have you ever felt like something finally made sense long after you learned it? Did you learn a lesson but didn’t give it a second thought until a certain moment opened your eyes?  How amazing was it when it happened, and how did your life change after that?  Well, I can’t really put it into words how my life’s changed unless I use this famous R&B hit by Johnny Nash to help me do so.

The cool, upbeat guitar chords give a springy quality to the song as it begins.  “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.  I can see all obstacles in my way.  Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.  It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright), sun-shiny day“.  I feel like the storm that was pushing against me has abated because I became too strong to hold down.  Of course, that doesn’t mean there won’t be other problems later on.  Now I can anticipate things that are good, bad, or indifferent and I will find the good in any situation once the initial reaction has passed.  It feels so good to have a clear frame of mind; I don’t know where I’m going, but I know how I’m getting there!

The second verse reminds me of my journey with Autism.  “I think I can make it now, the pain is gone; all of the bad feelings have disappeared.  Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin for!  It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright), sun-shiny day“.  My negative feelings don’t cripple me anymore.  All I have to do is let them run their course and I’ll feel better afterwards.  The bridge is an outburst of joy as Johnny invites people to see the beauty of a world filled with hope.  It certainly fills me with hope!  “Look all around, there’s nothin’ but blue skies!  Look straight ahead, nothin’ but blue skies!“.  The first verse repeats one more time and brings home the positive feeling.  By the end, I can’t help but be in a good mood.  This classic song has taken on new meaning for me in the past few months.

Everything I’ve learned from Autism support groups, self-improvement seminars, family and friends, and life in general has begun making a lot of sense to me.  I have a much clearer feeling of purpose, but more than that, I’m now consistent with my actions.  The more actions I take, the easier it is to work toward a fuller and richer life.  With the steps I’ve taken to start a new family business called San Diego Scan and Share, it’s only a matter of time before my blog and the business are linked to each other.  Stay tuned for updates as our business gets off the ground.  Each experience is unique and a post in and of itself, but this song says exactly what I feel today.  My life has just begun and I really can see clearly now!

Listen to the song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FscIgtDJFXg

I’m Easy Like Sunday Morning

31_sun-and-cloud-photosYou’ve really got to hand it to the people who wrote the oldies.  Perhaps they didn’t know if their music would be remembered, but I think that they’d be surprised at how profoundly some people have been touched; people like me, for example.  I don’t care how old music gets; when it strikes a chord with me (pun intended) I remember it for the rest of my life.

One of my favorite classics is the R&B ballad “Easy (Like Sunday Morning)” by Lionel Richie and the Commodores.  I’m reminded about who I am, courtesy of this song.  When certain things happened over the past few years, I found myself using this song to sing my truth.  I still feel the same way today; that’s why it’s one of my favorites.

When the song opens with four bars of an iconic piano melody, I’m hooked right away.  “I know it sounds funny but I just can’t stand the pain; girl, I’m leaving you tomorrow.  Seems to me girl, you know I’ve done all I can.   You see I begged, stole and I borrowed…yeah“.  The first verse speaks to me of a man who has reached the end of the line in a failing relationship.  He feels like he’s done everything humanly possible to make it work, but it wasn’t meant to be, and yet, he’s accepted that fact.  That’s what I feel when the chorus is sung for the first time.  “Ooo, that’s why I’m easy…I’m easy like Sunday morning.  That’s why I’m easy…I’m easy like Sunday morning“.  There have been moments when this has been true for my own life, but I don’t dwell on it like I used to.  I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t think about my past, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if I let it consume my thoughts.

The second verse really speaks to my Aspie personality.  “Why in the world would anybody put chains on me?  I’ve paid my dues to make it.  Everybody wants me to be what they want me to be.  I’m not happy when I try and fake it…no“.  As I began to accept my diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, I wondered why some people didn’t understand what the Autism Spectrum was or didn’t want to understand it.  I feel like I’ve paid my dues in this life, having had to deal with intolerance, misunderstanding and outright bullying from a few external forces.

Because I’ve grown in awareness, I sometimes notice when people assume there’s something wrong with me and I need to be “fixed”.  I don’t appreciate it when people make that kind of assumption, and I’ve wasted too much time trying to be what I believed others wanted me to be.  I’m more aware of my authentic self and I’m happier for embracing it.  The repeated chorus reaffirms that feeling of self-confidence that I didn’t have until I stood tall and proud in my truth.

The bridge of the song is full of personal power and says exactly what I want from life.  “I wanna be high, so high!  I wanna be free to know the things I do are right.  I wanna be free…just me. Oh, yes“.  I sometimes get carried away when singing this part because it’s exactly what I feel at my core.  When I embraced my diagnosis and overcame my worst feelings of being bullied and ostracized, I realized that being my authentic self was the only way to feel happy.  I eventually found the courage to tell my story with this blog, and I’m proud to be doing so.  I feel like I’m exactly what I need to be: a voice, an advocate, an example of a person on the Autism Spectrum living a full and healthy life.

After an eight-bar instrumental, the chorus repeats twice and the song fades out.  Music can be more than just idle entertainment; I believe that the perfect song can help bring out whatever bad feelings are inside and boost all the good feelings you have.  “Easy (Like Sunday Morning)” rings true with what’s in my heart.  I know deep down that as long as I have music, I’ll feel alive and authentic.  I think anyone can have a song in their heart that gives them joy when they need it. So now I wonder…what are your “heart” songs?

Listen to the song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQpq5ofcSdg