Thursday, July 25, 2013

More is Less and Less is More

I've had this blog title and concept in my head for some time now but it has been so hard to put it into words so today I'm simply trying. Will it be perfect? Probably not, but the title itself is enough once I [try to] explain the concept.

If we just look at my blogs this week, one about a gas station which means so much and also my experience with the thunderstorm at 36,000 feet this shows that, in life, things have different meanings for me. In other words, what might be a major thing for you might not register for me and what might be something that has almost as much relevance as life itself for me might be inconceivable to you.

One way this plays out is what some call an, "inappropriate attachment to objects" which I have blogged several times as well as a major chapter in my book Finding Kansas entitled, "Small Things".

A great example of this would be this; in 5th grade I nominated myself to be the kickball umpire at recess and on this one day the best kicker didn't come to the parking lot to play. I knew he was in school and this was against the routine (another thing that applies to this, for most routines can be broken, for myself routines are the law of the land) so I went to go find him and when I did, by the front door, he sort of looked up and said, "Yeah, um, my dog died this morning." too which I calmly said, "Oh. Oh, well, do you want to play kickball now?" At the time there was no registering of the words he said which if I just gave you this story with nothing else you might think I was just the most cold, callous, and heartless individual in the world, but now let me give you a counterpoint to that.

It was 2001 and Emily and I were driving up to my sister's in Indianapolis to attend the Brickyard 400. On the drive we were on I-70 and we came through this town of St. Elmo, Illinois (population 1,426 per what wikipedia says) and the first thing I noticed was that the water tower had been repainted. No big deal, right? Wrong! From 1993 to 2001 I must have been in a car through that town at least 50 times and on the water tower, under the town name, it said, "1988 I.H.S.A.A. Final Four" which meant that the team from that town made that year's state's final four in basketball. In 1988 I was only five years old so you would think this would mean nothing to me but my reaction to this change was tears. Emily thought I was kidding, but I was brought to tears as I thought about all those that were on that team and that no one, from that day forward, would know what they did.

This is a very difficult concept to explain because, on one hand, there can be this cold, and seemingly immune reaction to emotion and yet a minor change in the world can evoke an emotional response that I'm sure is impossible for others around me to understand which is why I think the line of, "more is less and less is more" fits perfectly to this because some things that would seem to be an obvious emotional reaction may get none and a change in the environment say, a business that goes out of business, or a childhood toy is lost, or a street sign is changed, or a water tower being repainted may illicit major reactions.

There are many reasons, I think, that puts this system in play. One, for sure, is the "associative memory system" in that exterior items, or places, or songs, or anything really becomes connected to a time, a place, an emotion, or a person. It's this system which everything is really tied. I originally thought it was just memories, but this is the foundation for everything really and the basis for routines. When something is lost, or changed, it creates a rift throughout the entire system and it is here when "less is more" becomes apparent. If something is sudden, and stated much like "my dog died this morning" it is hard to register. That's the only way to describe it as it takes time to register and to be processed and yeah, four hours later I realized the scope of the loss, but at the moment more was less because it was unable to be processed.

I could write on and on about this and probably would just go around in circles so I will leave this at that. One thing to remember is that things that may seem too small to be noticed, or too small to have any emotional reaction may be a major episode for us on the autism spectrum and things that should have a response may not because it just isn't able to be processed and understood at that point in time.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmmmm. This is a tough one. I think I've read in another blog of yours that one of the hurdles people on the Autism spectrum have to constantly face is the fact that most don't have any outwardly visible signs of having a disability. This becomes most obvious during social situations such as those you've experienced on the golf course or like this when something just slightly out of order can send you into a crying fit.

    I don't remember if I read it here or somewhere else, but the phrase that comes to mind is "if you've met one person with Autism, you've only met one person with Autism." My apologies for my imperfect memory. But my point is, the more I read your blog and the more I am exposed to those on the spectrum, everyone, and I mean those on and not on the spectrum, are all made from the same mould. Sure, we all have our imperfections but why are my imperfections any more or less (see how I tied that in?) than your imperfections?

    It was great talking to you today and I'm looking forward to the next blog.