Just over a week ago I wrote The Silent Struggle: What is Different About Me? There is a flip side to that article in that it just isn't that I wonder why I am different in silence but also the immense joys I can feel are often felt in secret.
There are so many seemingly irrelevant everyday things that for me provide for a grand time. The first thing I can remember in life was car rides to kindergarten in the rain. How was that exciting and joy inducing? Windshield wipers! Windshield wipers? Yes, I would stare at the windshield wipers and be transfixed with joy as I watched them go back and forth. There was more than just that as I made a game that had a score system as each time the wipers got to their lowest point as if they were pointed to the right and there was no car, parked car, or pedestrian a point was awarded. If you could have seen me you might think I was lost or staring off into space but that wasn't the case as I was immersed in a very joyful event in secret.
The joys usually continued in kindergarten as I always got to play with these special types of blocks. I wrote about these blocks, and gave a picture of them, in this 2010 blog post but the sheer joy experienced is something that I don't think a person that isn't on the spectrum can appreciate. It isn't that I simply enjoy it, or like it, but these silent joys are felt throughout my entire body.
Continuing in school I often found coloring in block letters to be the most amazing thing in the world. Year after year I got more elaborate on this and in 5th grade I experienced a new level of coloring bliss. It was in the religion book and at the start or each course there was a bubble that had what course number it was and in this bubble the number was white and the exterior was colored and at the end of each course the colors were reversed. Naturally, when I see a bubble number or letter that is white it screams to be colored in so I did so. It started out that I would just color that day's course, but over time I started moving ahead until I finished the book. I was out of things to color so what did I do? I traded books and got to start all over. Here's the interesting thing though and that is I was never told to stop doing this. I didn't try to hide it and the teacher didn't have me stop. Not that this was an issue, if anything, by doing this act of coloring, it helped me pay attention even more so as these silent joys are also the most relaxing thing I know of. So, by coloring, my anxiety level was much lower and I felt at ease.
To this day I still have this coloring joy. It's advanced and while I say I have no artistic ability I am proud of my skills. I will eventually do a dedicated blog post on this (I've been telling myself this since the beginning back in March 2010) art of coloring magazine covers. My favorites are Sports Illustrated and Newsweek as both use big block letters on their covers and the colors I use depends on what team or news event is featured on the cover. Since I began doing this back in 2004 I have done over 1,100 covers and I have kept every one I have done. There are some repeats as to keep my stock of magazines high I will often buy back issues on Ebay in bulk. In the end though when I need to relax and focus there is nothing better than getting out my 30+ Sharpies and engrossing myself in the art of coloring magazine covers.
If I wanted to I could probably make this blog post 1,000 paragraphs long as I think of things that I enjoy to a level that other people could never really understand. Such as how much sensory bliss there is watching anything that spins or being able to research and learn about whatever Kansas may be on any given day. It isn't that these silent joys are just fun or enjoyable, but it's joy to the core; a feeling of sheer elation that is felt all the way to the toes. I may have written in that post about struggling in silence but I also experience immense joy in things that most people overlook or perhaps can't experience joy in. So, next time you see a person on the spectrum doing something that seems mundane, repetitive, or maybe even boring take a step back and wonder if it is something that could just possibly be, for them, the most exciting, awesome, and relaxing thing in the world.