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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Life and People in Another Light

Monday morning it was time to leave Vegas. The weekend still seemed like a horrible dream. Obviously, though, it was not a dream. Rob wanted to eat at the hotel buffet, but I wanted to do something I used to do every day when I was an instructor at the Derek Daly Academy and that was to get breakfast at the Petro truckstop right by the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

It was odd going into this place because it was unchanged from that which I remember from eight years ago. Thankfully, the table I always sat in was open so I took it, and the breakfast I remembered tasting so great still was. As great as this was, a flood of emotions, well, flooded me.

It had been eight years since I was at this speedway and yet it seemed as if no time had passed at all. I thought who I was then, and who I am now, and while there was so much hard work to go from that to this, the sense of time wasn't there.

I believe it is in a time like now, after witnessing what I did on Sunday, that time has more meaning as we are reminded that time is finite, there is an end. With this thought I savored each bite more and soaked up the dining room I was in.

From the truck stop we drove about an hour when we got to a town that had a golf course that I have always wanted to play since I first I learned of it. When I got there I was introduced to the husband and wife I would be playing with.

Typically, I despise playing golf with others. To me, golf is most fun when I am alone and the course is empty. Last month, in Marshall, Missouri, I played 54 holes of golf prior to a presentation. Fifty-four holes only took five hours of so. When I play golf near Saint Louis it sometimes takes that long to play one round, much less three.

So, here I was and usually I would get mad, but the husband and wife here were both 70 years old. Seventy and living life to its fullest. If there was ever a reminder about time and life, yesterday was the day.

The course I played was Wolf Creek and it was the most beautiful course I have ever seen. Granted, I've never played at a course that was considered "premiere" and this round of golf would be my last splurge of anything until 2012, the beauty of the landscape can not be sold short. The picture to the right was the amazing, breath taking view that greeted us.

As awesome as the view was, my golf game was not. This normally would make me mad and I told Rob, who came along as the photographer, that, "usually I would expect someone to pay me for this type of abuse." However, my skill was irrelevant. Playing at this course was a dream come true, and not only that, but everything seemed a little bit more cherished.

I know what is going on within me right now. I experienced the same emotions and feelings in 2008 after the hitting a horse and the other events I have not shared. These events will be in my 2nd book, but for the most part the relevant event was the horse. Well, after hitting and killing the horse, I started to think of each passing hour and that each hour is an hour you can never get back. This isn't the best of mindsets as it creates a lot of mental tension, but what it does do is allow everything to be taken in and also seems to make life, "slow down."

In the mid section of the round I found some skill and had four straight pars. Then my game fell apart again, but I was fine with this. Also, it was nice being around an older couple who simply wanted to do anything and everything in life.

On the 15th tee I finally was able to explain who I was and what I do. Usually I will not open up, or state anything that isn't fully needed, but I felt more open yesterday. Maybe it was the on-going numbness from Sunday's events, but I felt a strong desire to make a connection in any way possible. They were unaware of the specifics of autism, but when I said 1 in about 100 births will be on the autism spectrum and the number is up from 1 in 1,500 in 1980 their looks of not really understanding to wondering what it is and why it is happening were obvious.

When the round was over I was worried because I knew there would be a goodbye. I hate goodbyes, and have hated the usage of that word for well over five years now. Also, since no true personal information was exchanged, I have no idea who they were or where they are going. In other words, my four hours of interaction with them will most likely be the only time I ever see them in my entire life.

The good bye occurred and it was time to head out. The destination was simply as far as my body would take me before I became a hazard on the road. The next destination will be my mom's house in South Dakota. Before I wore out, we stopped at a place to eat and while there was a birthday being celebrated and all the waiters and staff did a small song while clapping. I will never forget that moment as I looked around the pole, and saw, from afar, the staff all gathered around. What, for me, is the worst day of the year was being celebrated. I have hated my birthday for over a decade as I don't see it as a day of celebration, but rather a day of mourning as another year towards the inevitable has passed. During that moment though, as I watched the small celebration occur, I had an odd change of heart. Birthdays aren't something to dread, but should be a motivator. I used to see everything I was not, and will not be, instead of seeing what I have done and what I want to do. It's odd, but a simple round of golf with complete strangers and then a random birthday clap and song for a person I couldn't even see could have such an effect.

I don't know how long this will last, and maybe I've had spurts like this before, but I feel different. Instead of totally trying to avoid strangers perhaps I will not be so elusive. Instead of dreading the birthday, maybe I will be able to see it as a milestone passing, but instead of dwelling on the fact that I will never be whatever age I was, perhaps I can see it as another year that I can make a difference in this world.

Perhaps though, maybe everything that I feel is the ongoing shock from Sunday. The images and sounds won't leave my mind. I've felt this before and know it will eventually pass. When it does, maybe I will go back to my old ways and simply see the days past instead of the times ahead. I hope I can hang onto this feeling though as it is such a different feeling to want to interact with others and also to see the beauty in small things. Maybe I will find a balance. All I know is that right now everything means more to me. As for now it's time to hit the road. The destination today is my mom's house some 750 miles away. I have no idea if this post made any sense as I'm afraid I rambled, but so be it if I did.

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