Monday, September 5, 2022

The Divide

There I stand, I’m perplexed if I need to respond. I think someone asked me something, but I’m unsure. I don’t know if I should turn my gaze the way I heard because that’ll open up a new conundrum because if they didn’t say something they’ll be confused if I looked, and if they did say something and I look and I don’t have an answer to the question posed, well, they’ll be confused. I can’t win, and I am pining for relief… the relief that comes from being within Kansas.

There I stand. I’m assured in every response I give. The confidence in my voice in unmatched, and my body moves without any thought of my posture. I am free. There are no worries about gazing the wrong way, and if I’m unsure about something, or if a question was posed, I’ll ask for clarification. This is freedom. This is an elation that transcends my ability as a writer to truly relay to you what it’s like, but it is Kansas, and when I’m there I forget what it’s like when I’m not. 

The divide is growing. I’ve always known about the divide and in my presentation I have said, since presentation #1, “if you were paralyzed in every state except Kansas, where would you want to live?” That’s a question to the superlative, but that’s what life on the autism spectrum sometimes brings. For those of us on the spectrum, Kansas is that activity or interest we excel at, we may know everything and more about it, and it’s our supreme motivation.

The dual existence is taxing. The Kansas mentioned above is how I feel when I’m in the flag stand, such as yesterday for the NTT INDYCAR Series race in Portland. The pressure of that job is such that many individuals not on the autism spectrum would run as fast as they could away from it. I embrace it. In the most hectic of environments one could find, I thrive, and yet such an activity can’t be 365 days a year. 

I work with the best people in the world. Their understanding of my strengths and weaknesses brings tears to my eyes. It wasn’t always that way, and for many it still isn’t the reality of now, but for me I feel horrible when I can only withdraw. I over process, I answer questions that weren’t asked, and answer rhetorical questions. It’s much like there’s a dance going on and everyone else knows the rhythm and beats, while I stay out of step regardless the amount of practice I do. 

Why is understanding important? I said I work with the best people in the world, and it’s within the understanding of the duality that has kept me in the game. My seemingly aloof ways at time could be taken 1,000 wrong ways, but it never has. It would be so easy for me to give up and withdraw completely, that’s what my innermost thoughts tell me to do, but Kansas is the supreme motivator. 

It’s hard being out of Kansas when I know how easy speech and movements can be. Heck, look at all the times I’ve shared the buzz created by the simple act of waving a flag. This, coming from a person that had no athletic ability growing up and absolutely no grace in any of my movements. Within Kansas though, well, the impossible may just be possible. 

However, as mentioned, being out of Kansas is difficult. The difference between soaring and being grounded without wings is drastic. Ever with great understanding around me, I will still feel bad. You won’t see this, and most of the time I won’t want you to know. I must seem stoic to not let you see the panic within. Should I answer? Should I make eye contact? Should I assist in whatever it is that’s occurring? Did I do the right thing five minutes ago… the questions will rage on with no answer compounding the confusion. 

It’ll be worth it. Get us in our topic, interest, or activity and we may light up. I always have. It’s been my motivation, and I’m not sure where I’d be if my Kansas had ever been ripped away from me. Time and time again the impossible happened, but time and time again I’ll be in a position out of Kansas, and whether it’s me, or another person you meet on the autism spectrum, be aware of this duality and you may see us be fully confident in every movement we do, and then the next be lost as to what dance is going on. It’s okay though, for me, because I may not know the dance steps but I assure you few know the sensation I have when I soar high above the clouds go Kansas. 

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