Here in America it’s Independence Day and the title of this blog may be confusing. First, I’m not saying there’s more independence within the real state of Kansas and others. Secondly, I’m not talking about personal independence such as being able to live on one’s own. The independence I’m talking about is the feeling of being free within my own body.
Free within my own body? What does this mean? First, let me explain my concept of Kansas. Those with Asperger’s will have an area of defined interest of knowledge that they’ll want to talk about to the exclusion of everything else. That sentence works, but I prefer saying that, “if you were paralyzed in every state except Kansas I’m fairly confident you’d want to live within the borders of Kansas” and Kansas is that activity or interest. With that said Kansas just isn’t important but it’s everything to us and since it is everything there becomes this sense of independence.
Again, I’m not talking about the ability to live on one’s own as for me that took longer than most, but in my version of Kansas there’s independence from the typical anxieties and trepidations. Instead of second guessing everything and trying to understand the gray areas of life there is clarity and things make sense. Instead of worrying about every movement and getting stuck in the positional warfare the constant bombardment of worrying about the space I inhabit vanishes. Maybe some would refer to this as feeling normal, but on this day the word independence rings true.
The times I get to experience Kansas recharges my ability to handle life. It’s impossible to stay within Kansas 100% of the time despite how hard we may try but the feeling of confidence that comes with each trip carries over.
However, should you see me in my Kansas at the racetrack when I’m flagging, you might get highly confused. This past weekend I worked the Robbie Stanley Memorial race in Indianapolis and Saturday was a long day. It was about 14 hours of working the flags in the flagstand and every movement I do and flag I display is done with complete clarity. I don’t think about my movements or what I need to do and for myself it is the most relaxing thing I do. Without these trips to Kansas I don’t know what my ability to handle other things in my life would do and therein lies the confusing aspect of Asperger’s. What most would consider a hectic and frantic environment filled with critical split second decisions that can affect safety and the outcome of a race I find it to be a peaceful place because I am 100% in tune to what’s going on and the action is going at the speed my brain is accustomed to going. Again, the statement of, “if you’ve met one person with autism you’ve only met one person with autism” because my Kansas will only be a few others, but the concept of Kansas rings true whatever the Kansas may be.
The world is a place filled with vagueness and gray areas and most of the time Kansas will be based in something heavy in facts. Facts are clear cut and (most of the time) indisputable and from that comes a sense of security. Security… Therein lies the independence! It’s been a while since I explained the daily anxieties I face from just small things such as random eye contact at a store of the fears I experience from the world around me or to explain what the daily sensory drain does to me but all of that is offset by Kansas and is the only time I am at peace.
Balance is a difficult thing to find and Kansas can be one tool that can be used. My teachers did a great thing by using my love of auto racing to inspire me to learn about other topics. One person’s Kansas may be difficult to use in springboarding outward but if it can be then I feel it most certainly should be because the difference between being in Kansas or not is the difference between feeling as if I’m in a fight with my own body and the part of my brain that wants to flee from everything or, when I’m in Kansas, feeling at ease in my own skin, having things make sense, and most of all feeling free from all the stress, heartaches, and chains that I feel I have thus making the time spent within Kansas a true feeling of independence.