I'm now in the twin cities in Minnesota and the town of Minneapolis has haunted me since 1999 as this is the town that a major chapter in my book Finding Kansas took place. This month also has been unique because it was 10 years ago this month I was an instructor at the Derek Daly Academy racing school in Las Vegas.
I can't state enough what this month means to mean. October 2003 was an amazing time and I remember all as if it were right now. This chapter of my life is also a chapter in my book but two things about it is that it was the first time in my life I was on my own and secondly it was the last hurrah of my racing career and my life not knowing about Asperger's Syndrome.
In my presentation I do stress that I was on the path to racing stardom. And I was! I was 20, an instructor at a racing school and I had a sponsor. All was right with my world. Then, the month ended, and the following month I would find out I had Asperger's. I thought life was over.
Thinking that was my life was over led to a deep depression and led to me always thinking about what could have been. What could have been had I made it in racing? How much fame would I have? How would people see me? What would my trophy case look like? Then, I also thought about how Asperger's affected my relationships and what my life would have been without it. These thoughts; this what could have been mentality, was not good at all. Nothing mattered in my life except what wasn't and what could have been.
I've said this many times, but when one sees everything they're not they will forgot who they are. This is where I was and it was from that pit of despair that the current me was born.
I live that life, to a degree, now. I wonder what could have been if people, back when I was young, had the awareness that is now coming about. I don't want anyone to live in the place I did. I was able to come out the other side but others might not. It is from awareness and understanding that I firmly believe the foundation for hope is built on. If those around us can understand us then all of our lives will be made all the more rich. It can be done, it doesn't take that much to do so!
Part of my message is that, even though life may not turn out the way we expect it, and even though in the depths of night all seems hopeless, there is hope. I know not everyone is going to be able to hear my words as I know I wouldn't have listened to the me of today back then, but that's okay. Perhaps someday those words of hope will be heard and understood, but if those around us know us and understand us then maybe hope will be experienced earlier rather than later.