Disability? Really?

Let me tell you about one of the advantages to being Aspergers/High Functioning Autistic.

I can have a truly phenomenal and happy day. And all I have to do is quit trying. I can allow myself to forget all the social conventions and all of society, I don’t have to think about Steve or the fight we got in, don’t have to wonder what my neighbors think of me or what is going on in other cars. I don’t have to worry about how I’m dressed, or my haircut, or whether I am socially acceptable.

I can get in my sporty little Mazda MX6, roll down all the windows, open the moon roof, crank the tunes, and the AC and just drive…and then nothing exists for me except the music and the air rippling my clothes, the bass speaker thudding the beat against my leg, the treble and tweeters catching the high notes of the gods, and lofting them past my head, my ears wholly aware, my eyes and hands and my feet, my car, the engine, suspension and wheels all in sync as if they were one thing, and I can drive as fast or as slow as I want to, the light and reflections rippling off the curves of the hood and the shadows stripling the windshield.

I am an excellent driver (I can drive anything), and I have an excellent car, V6, rack and pinion steering, prime shocks, which I keep in excellent condition since tinkering with it is almost as much fun as driving it.

I like to drive period, in any weather and under any conditions but my favorite is to drive is at twilight when the air is cool and the light mellow. Tonight was absolutely perfect, I left my house as twilight just began to creep across the sky and just as a storm was coming in from the west, I took Big Island Road – a winding two lane country road, south just to see where it went, car open running hard to stay at the edge of the storm, engine open, music swirling like a force, air fast and heavy scented, and the road a fast disappearing ribbon below my wheels and the roaring pitches of the engine.

I used to think I had no sense of smell, but I now think that was just the fact that I lived in one of the most polluted cities in the US, and now I don’t anymore but rather live in the country beyond the sprawl, and scents – some only half remembered – keep coming back to me…and when your driving with your windows down scents hit you with the force of a hammer and filter into your brain like a drug. Different drugs all year round. Fresh mown hay, river water, ice, winter air, summer air, skunk, mown grass, fresh cut timber – pine, maple, apple, cedar, fresh cut lumber with it’s burned sawdust tang and released sap smells, or even just wet lumber, fresh rain, wet wood land, marsh, wet grass, hot pavement and the smell of the mists forming where the rain fell, valley fog, manure – both sweet and hot, cow and horse flesh, hot metal from a welder’s shop, hot granite, the smell of a spring somewhere off the road with its moss on rock undertones, rhododendron, wood fire smoke, campfire smoke, barbeque smoke, hickory smoke, magnolia, mountain laurel, honey suckle, sassafras, coal smoke and electricity, peat moss, oil, gasoline, lichen on brick, and so much more, all of the scents you have come to recognize but can’t put into words, cannot describe at unless the person you’re talking to has smelled them as well.

And the sounds, too…music, the car’s engine sounds, which are as familiar to me as Beethoven’s Ninth, with each roar, and click and pop familiar or cause for investigation, the sound of the tires on the road textures, the sound of other traffic or no traffic at all, the birds – jays, gulls, owls, crows, loons, whippoorwills, geese, hawk, owl then the livestock – the neighing of a horse, the lowing of cattle, goats, even sheep, or the wood sounds…all so beautiful.

And the sights, trees, moss, river, boats, stone houses, brick houses, cabins, chalets, industrial blocks, rail yards, rusted iron, deer, bear, possums – some in the least likely of places, factories, forests, gravel pits, koi ponds, horse ranches, car graveyards, cemetery spreads, marching power lines. Human and nature in all their variety and without the clouding mask of religion or social caste or learned associations. No categories, no white guy, black guy, rich guy, poor guy, redneck, skater, slut. No natural, industrial, urban, country, slum, mansion. Nothing to keep you from seeing that everyone and everything is god and of god whichever god, goddess you believe in. Just now, just beauty, Just happiness.

And my “disability”, my inability to judge facial expression or tone of voice, my inability to go “he/she likes me/hates me”, my inability to judge time, for all the problems it can cause me…and does cause me, also gives me times – driving, walking, shopping, hiking, pumping gas, or mowing lawns, eating, working, whenever of grace, also gives me these moments of pure divinity and pure being.

We have not fallen, we have not lost our Edens. We have lost our ability to experience them, with our ego trips, our petty angers, our monumental fears, we place ourselves and our perceptions between ourselves and our world, and then we blame things. Yes, even me. We blame drugs, alcohol, depression, poverty, charity, wealth, physical handicaps, physical health, the color of our skins, our autisms, our fears, our parents, our schools, our what-the-f-evers, because responsibility for ourselves…the idea that we create our worlds and are solely the cause of whatever happens to us, both good and bad, that our choices are our lives, is so darn scary that we actually prefer our pains. Yes, me included.

But sometimes…sometimes we taste heaven, Eden, Elysium, Nirvana, the garden…in a sunset, in the act of love, in our grandchild’s smile, in our cat’s soft fur and softer purrs, in a dog’s lopsided tongue filled grin, even in a good meal after a long day, or a warm bed in a thunderstorm…and then, then we are closest to ourselves and to our gods.


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