It's been a little under a month since I returned from Réunion. I'm writing this on a plane headed home from working my first race of the year and being back in an airplane has brought back a rush of emotions of my trip last month. I'm also writing this to the music I wrote most of my words during my trip and I must admit I'm fighting back tears.
I worked a SKUSA regional event over the weekend and those that follow me on Facebook had many questions about my trip, why I went, and even why I chose such a remote place like Réunion. These conversations always led to talking about the book I'm writing and the overt excitement to those I talked to about my journey, my observations, and just the vast amount of adventures I've had within the four trips that comprise The Aspie Traveler series thus far has me excited that my hopes for this book will come true.
I'm closing in on the one year anniversary of the first trip of the four and I had two weeks where no presentations were scheduled and I needed a challenge and something new to prevent myself from falling into a seemingly bottomless pit of despair and had no idea the series of self discoveries and adventures that would lay ahead. However, when I did the second trip, I started thinking this had book material and in the conversations I had my hopes that this concept would conjure up the imagination and get people excited about places heard and unheard of. I've written a book solely on Asperger's and that really has limited the audience, but this travel book is going to do exactly what I hoped it would and that is to expand the potential audience by expanding the material and I wish you could've seen the conversations I had and the excitement and all the while amidst all the adventure I was making points about the autism spectrum thus raising understanding within the confines of the stories.
I'm excited, I'm actually beyond excited but at the same time, since I've gotten back, I haven't adjusted well to being back at home. It's been a rough go to be honest as the trip to Réunion was so over the top and such a challenge which led to the most prolific writing experience I've ever had in my life. It was beyond the experience I had when I first sat down and wrote the first chapters of Finding Kansas and was simply seamless to write. It's hard to explain unless you yourself are either an artist or a writer, but to have such a canvas to write on and to have words come in the thousands without effort is something that isn't comparable to any other experience I've had and being home, in a way, has taken away that canvas.
This isn't to say that being home is bad, but I have so much passion in what I do and ever though I'm an author it is, at times, difficult to grind out blog posts without becoming repetitive. On top of that I have come such a long way from when I stated my blog six years ago. Back then I still lived with my dad and simple trips to Taco Bell or the grocery store made for edge of your seat blog posts but I've grown and those formerly chaotic and difficult experiences are now more tolerable and don't offer the same writing material. To live on the edge, though, in a foreign land provides me the material I used to have and from my experiences comes new thoughts, ideas, and concepts to better explain to others the nuances of the autism spectrum and better ways to describe why I do the things I do.
I had travel envy at LAX before we took off as I saw signs on the departure gates for Sydney, Tokyo, and Bangkok and I yearned to have a ticket to one of those places. It's odd that a decade ago it took a major effort to leave home but now I feel restless at home. Why is this? For someone that likes structure and loathes change why is the constant of being home such a downer now? The answer lies within change itself. You see, I've been beyond blessed and a bit spoiled in the jobs I have because just look at where I am now, well you can't actually look but I just flew over Las Vegas and I'm on the go and have been coast to coast several times with SKUSA and USAC flying the flags over race tracks. That's pretty awesome and I also have such an extremely awesome blessing of being the Autism Ambassador for Easter Seals Midwest which has me on the road rather frequently. Why does this all mean? It means that, in my life, the structure I used to have in being home most days of the year has shifted in that travel and changes of scenery is now the new normal because, if there's more change that constant, then there really isn't change because constant change within itself is consistency and when I'm home I don't have the structure I have when I'm on the go.
I never thought I'd say that, this concept that change is good, but I've adapted and being home without a goal has very much turned me, in a way, Sherlock Holmes without a puzzle to solve. I feel aimless and self doubt comes in like a 100 foot tsunami. I've had several people tell me that, after hearing my story of the past year, that I have, "lived many person's lifetime of experiences in just a single year." This may be true and I don't doubt that few will ever do what I've done. I don't mean this in a boasting manner but simply as a matter of fact but yet at the same time I, in these moments of self doubt and self loathing, yearn for what other people have and that is the phantom known as normal.
This all goes to the duality of having Asperger's. Some of us can have exceptional gifts in a certain area and I was given the gift if self awareness and the ability to express it, but with that comes the knowledge of what I don't have. Maybe someday I'll get close to being able to experience it, but when I'm at home I feel like more of a foreigner at home than I do afar because what all of my experiences have shown is that I'm more comfortable knowing that I can't understand the language and social situations than being at home where those I encounter at a store, or a restaurant, expect that I can pick up on the social cues.
So these are my rather scattered thoughts from the sky today. Despite the self doubt I've encountered the past month since I've returned I am just giddy about the audience that The Aspie Traveler book will reach. Those that have bought Finding Kansas bought it because in one way or another they had some affiliation with the autism spectrum already but this travel book and just the onslaught of oddities and misadventures will broaden the market and get those that don't have a concept of what Asperger's is at least a foundation to build upon and it is that which has me more excited about this than any other thing I've done. However, should the unfortunate fate of it never getting published happen I still have some amazing stories to tell and just like at the race track yesterday I'll be spreading autism understanding to those that typically wouldn't inquire about such a thing and in the end it's made the countless hours and investment in this project worth it beyond any measurable method.