How a man on the Spectrum learns to live

Posts tagged ‘Quote’

The History Boy

“We are not makers of history, we are made by history”-Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We have a history together”, “It’s just history repeating itself”.  There are many sayings that apply to the subject, but what does the word really mean?  Dictionaries have multiple definitions such as “the aggregate of past events”, ” a past notable for its important, unusual, or interesting events”, “the discipline of recording & interpreting past events involving human beings”, and “all that is preserved or remembered of the past, especially in written form.”  Now let me ask you: how do you define history?  Does history define you?  Have you understood and accepted large and small events of the past?  Do you ever feel like you could make history in your own way?

Personally, I feel like the subject is divided into two categories: External and Internal History.  External History is about a group of people, a country, or the entire world.  Internal History relates to a person, place, or a person’s family.  In my own life I have had many dealings with both kinds; it has taken me a long time and a lot of challenges to understand completely, but I believe that everything happens for a reason.

If you think about it academically, history was one of my best subjects in school.  I have a knack for remembering details, dates and locations.  I can remember people’s names very well and why they are named in the history books and I can also remember the context.  I feel like it’s a human habit to forget the reasons why something took place.  However, I have the ability to look at something holistically and see the bigger picture.  This allows me to see the full array of historical context.  It was these abilities that allowed me to earn good grades in school.  However, it was events outside of class relating to my personal history that contributed the most to my understanding of human and global history.

You may know already that I was bullied in elementary school and part of middle school, what you don’t know is how it affected my worldview.  After the worst of the bullying ended, I tried to put it behind me and focus on school.  When I studied some of the wars throughout history, my conclusion was that belligerence and insecurity, the main issues with people who bully, were at the core of many of these conflicts on a grand scale.

I also discovered the same behavior patterns in cruel acts of slavery and prejudice.  The crossing of cultures created a wave of insecurity about the unknown.  The more powerful and arrogant of the cultures took it upon themselves to build systems of slavery in order to use the “conquered” people as labor to build their new societies.  Under the guise of “civilization”, social structures and caste systems were created as a means to define humans by the station of their birth.

Discovering this pattern left me with a feeling of disgust at the way humans treat each other sometimes.  It was strong because I had already experienced my own kind of prejudice when I was bullied.  I eventually felt that all systems created by humans, national, political, social, and religious, had to be taken with a grain of salt.  They were originally built to bring order and understanding to the world, but I soon realized that no one system can hold a monopoly of truth on human existence and God’s creation.

It was around this time that I noticed changes in my family; this is when I began to take notice of my personal history.  When my grandfather was in failing health, I began to notice things about my extended family.  I could hear them speaking with such hurt and insecurity.  This was something I hadn’t seen before, I was confused and I felt bombarded with all the emotion.  It was later that I realized what I was seeing.

For years I used to think that I was the only one who could feel so much mental and emotional pain, it was a lonely feeling.  Then I saw the relatives that I idolized were acting just as unsure and hurt as I would feel at times.  I was shocked and I didn’t know what to think.  So much regret for past events, so much fear about the future, it was beyond my comprehension.  However, the more I matured, the more I understood.

Living with autism is like living with a heavy fog over your head.  You can’t see outside of yourself and without awareness, you think that your own small world is all there is to life.  The truth is, my family wasn’t changing, I was the one who was changing.  I was coming out of the haze that isolated me from the outside world.  My awareness was growing, and one of the first things I learned was about my family.

I was becoming aware of how human they really were.  I was seeing all of their frailties and imperfections; I was also seeing how they tried to compensate for them.  Learning that was one of the best things that could have happened to me.  I needed to see them as real people trying to make sense out of their lives in order to develop a new respect for them.  I discovered that as long as they worked on themselves and still loved me, I could learn from their examples by trial & error of how I could deal with my own issues.  Thus began the process of reconciling my family history.

During college was when I learned the most about the history of my ancestors and what previous generations have had to deal with.  I took some classes in Mexican History and learned about the tumultuous and wonderful stories that have dotted the North American continent for hundreds of years.  This was when the worldview I developed in my childhood would really come into play.

For years I poured through all the records of history.  Each lesson contained everything I needed to know about where my ancestors came from and where they wanted to go: the powerful native tribes and their amazing cities, the 300+ year rule of the iron-fisted Spanish Empire, the revolutions and the birth of the republic, the love/hate relationship with the United States, the cross-border fights for human rights, and the possibilities for the futures of both countries in a changing world.

The first things I felt were bitterness, disappointment, and a seething anger at injustices that were committed.  I soon came to realize that what I was feeling was historical pain.  This refers to the crippling, negative mindset of a people who have been badly affected by events in the past and continue to express the symptoms of that pain in very negative ways that often result in false assumptions, troubling statistics, and stereotypes.

Coming out of the fog that hung over my head, the truth about the past used to give me nightmares about what kind of future I had to look forward to.  The worst feeling I experienced was that my life was completely out of my control and I had no means of shaping it.  I began to question whether or not I even had a place in the world, but I soon discovered that the same ugly truth about the past was also the beautiful truth that would set me free.

I have now learned to model my worldview on the historical figures who sought to create a better life for humanity.  Every generation has its visionaries as well as destroyers.  By reading about the influence and conviction of people who stood up for freedom and justice, I have been guided in the direction of being a force for good, by becoming a voice for people on the Autism Spectrum.

Today, I feel like my history does not define me, it is showing me where I’ve come from, and how far I have yet to go.  I record parts of my history and my personal convictions on this blog, and I continue to do historical research for the novel I am working on.  My place in this world is one of creation, and my vision is that of a world where ignorance and assumptions about Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are replaced by enlightenment, knowledge, and respect.

My understanding, passion, and sense of purpose have never been clearer.  I must be an example of a person who defies the odds against them and sets a new standard.  I proudly accept my internal and external history as well as the so-called label of Autism.  I have a commitment to define how I make history by making a difference in people’s lives.  The hope I have for humanity and myself will not end until my last day on Earth.  I must make a difference, and in my own way, I am.

What Dreams Are Made Of

I’m sure that you’ve heard the word “dream” being used carelessly at times, I have as well.  I’ve heard it applied to many different situations, but something inside of me was always drawn back to my own meaning.  I now ask you this:  What does the word “dream” mean to you?  Has the definition changed throughout your life?  What dreams do you have now, versus when you were a kid?  Have you made them happen?

Well, for me the definition has evolved from when I was a little boy.  I still have dreams that were born in my early days of living unaware of my difference from “normal” people.  However as the saying goes: the only thing constant is change.  Much has changed in my life since I was little, but there are some dreams and desires that have withstood the test of time.

When I was little, I wanted to be different things when I grew up.  I loved watching the superhero and crime fighting cartoons on weekends, so I thought I could be a police officer.  I felt a love of transportation that I still have to this day.  From when I was eight until I turned fifteen, I wanted to be either a train engineer, the captain of a ship, or an airplane pilot.

As I entered middle school, I felt happy when I was singing in a choir.  Before I knew it, I was into the magic of music, and I had hoped to make a living by creating it.  I started taking the piano lessons that I had stopped taking when I was in first grade.  I felt like I was heading in a good direction, but things don’t always work out as planned.

I struggled for the first few years of community college.  My lack of focus, and my coming to terms with the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome forced me to reevaluate what direction I was going towards.  This is not to say that I was inactive at the time: this was when I was getting most of the counseling I needed to find out who I really was.

It was also this time that I was forming a dream around a girl that I knew.  We met online and declared our love to each other.  After nearly two years, I could see myself proposing to her.  But deep inside I knew that something was changing, and I was afraid to admit it.  On our final night, a conversation between us devolved into an emotional downward spiral and she attacked me personally.  It was then I realized that my dream of a life with her was over.  It was clear that we were leading very different lives and we weren’t being honest with each other.

I am glad that my dream for me and her ended, otherwise I would have continued living a lie because I was so desperate to be in love with someone.  I was afraid to give up this dream, but I knew I had to in order to let go of a wounded past.  Yet, I would eventually learn that dreams never really die, they are simply deferred.  I’ve learned that just because I broke up with someone, doesn’t mean I have to give up my dream.  On the contrary: this experience has taught me how to give all of myself to the woman who I was meant to be with.  It’ll take time for it to grow, but the romantic in me will always be hopeful.

During my transition to Cal State San Marcos, I began to refocus my direction into another method of creativity.  I discovered that the Literature & Writing department was well-renowned.  After much deliberation, I decided to pursue a degree in Literature with a writing emphasis.  I enrolled at San Marcos in 2008 and began my path to a writing career.  It was in May of 2011 that I finally earned my Bachelor of Arts degree.

So, one dream came true, and I needed to find a new one to fill the space left open.  It took a while for me to gain momentum, but now I have a clarity about what my purpose is, and what actions must be taken for me to fulfill it.  In my heart, I know that I just…”get it”.  I mean, I know the score about what life really can be when I apply my strengths.  I’ve felt that ever since this year began, I have been more focused and in tune with the world, and know what I have to do.

The truth is that all my life I’ve believed that I wasn’t meant to live with labels defining me.  I knew that I wanted to be an example of someone using their own strengths and weaknesses to defy the odds and conventional wisdom.  I truly felt that when I was doing what needed to be done with passion and commitment, I would be a success on my own terms.  So much so that everything I would achieve could never be taken away.  Yes, I was born with Asperger’s Syndrome and I knew that it explained a lot about me, but it didn’t tell my entire story.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my writing and voice are to be used as a force for positive change in this world.

Today, I’m writing more than just a blog.  I am branching out into writing a novel by using the skills I picked up in high school and college.  Ever since I looked into the Steampunk aesthetic, I found myself being drawn to the speculation of a steam-powered alternate history.  I discovered a few gaps in the market for novels and ideas, but I’ll save that topic for another post.

The point is that I am using my imagination and the thrill I get doing research into something that intrigues me.  I am currently looking into different sources to gather information about historical events so that I have a solid framework to speculate on and go from there.

So, what does this dream mean to me?  Well, it goes to the definition of what it means to me.  A dream is an inspired idea that is born in the mind and also touches the heart.  It is different from a goal, because a goal is the outcome of a plan, while a dream is the overall vision of the heart and mind blended into one.  My dream is to somehow be recognized for my natural talents.  My vision is to become a perfect example of someone on the Autism Spectrum who can show parents and children that the future can be alive with hope and possibility to alleviate the insecurity and worry that often comes with a Spectrum diagnosis.

I have learned to dream in stages, and have an action plan for making it a reality.  I’ve also learned that a vision can come to fruition no matter how long it takes.  After seeing my parents work for a majority of my life in jobs that were just stepping-stones to them, I learned that it’s never too late to follow your passions.  Today they work in careers they’re proud of, and I couldn’t be prouder or happier for them both.

Today, I am happy and proud to say that my dream is to keep growing this blog.  I also want to have my novel published and have it be the first of many more to come.  I believe that by continuing on this path, I will show the world that even for those with challenges, dreams do come true.  I know what needs to be done, and I’m enjoying the journey.