I was in Gordon, Nebraska at a restaurant with my mom, sister, and nephew when an occurrence so seemingly benign happened and to most it would be a non-point but for myself it thrust me back in my seat as I had a “oh…my…goodness!” moment. What spawned such a reaction? To my chemistry savvy nephew it’s NaCl but to most of us it’s table salt.
“Table salt… Aaron, you’re blogging about table salt?” is a reaction I’m sure many of you are having but bear with me as it’s within the story I’m about to tell that is a great illustration of Aspergerish thinking and, I hope, a ginormous learning moment for me. Anyway, we ordered and my burger came out and it was, well, it wasn’t good and was as bland as bland gets. I gave a facial expression of frustration and my sister told me it could, “use a little salt” which I looked at the salt shaker with an expression that conveyed suspicion as to if it would work and then my sister said something I have never once considered, “you know, you could lightly salt one part to see if it works and then salt the rest if it was good.”
No big deal, right? Just a bit of culinary advice, right? Something everyone knows, right? Wrong! This concept was something I never considered. Before that statement I never conceived of the notion that I could do a small test to see if it was a good move to make a further move to salt the whole burger. Previously it was an all or nothing move; either salt the whole burger or don’t salt at all.
Many of the things I’ve learned in life have dealt with learning about exceptions because my brain yearns for absolutes meaning it what’s a yes or no, black or white, and a right or wrong state. What this means is that it truly is all or nothing; the ability to consider things in the middle, or things in a partial state don’t exist. Think about that for a second, think about going through your day thinking in pure absolutes. In many things I have learned to have leeway as I used to be firm on time schedules and there was no greater sin than that of being late. It took many, many years to learn that things happen and this is something that an absolute mindset causes much more grief than good, but in other things, such as something as simple as the option to salt or not to salt is something that took me 32 years to learn.
As simple as the ability to partially salt one’s food may happen to be it’s something that never even occurred to me. Living life in a fluid world with many changes, grey areas, and choices that can be made in portions when one is firm in absolutes is one of the challenges living life with Asperger’s. Today’s blog, as revealing as it was for myself, was about something as simple and as small as salt. I can only imagine what else I have to learn about this world if I’m still learning about ways to not be absolute; to learn that there is a middle ground, that things aren’t all or nothing, and that one shouldn’t settle for a bland burger.