Loneliness & Autism

October 15, 2016

Q: I notice you often write about loneliness. Can you share with us why?

A: I imagine being lonely or trying to cope with loneliness will always be an indelible aspect of frontier living. You could even say it’s climatic and permeates every aspect of my existence here.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say loneliness bothers me per se. If that were really the case. I don’t think I would have written so much about it….you might perhaps see my preoccupation with loneliness as a form of catharsis. If anything I think that idea – loneliness – bothers others much more. Maybe not my regular readers as they are well acquainted with my frame of mind. But certainly…it certainly bothers others much more. Because when I write about loneliness I imagine it is like a mirror that they much prefer not to look into…least they see something that they’re not comfortable with.

Q: Do you think autism and loneliness goes hand in hand?

A: Yes. They are both one of the same reality. To me at least.

Q: Could you elaborate further?

A: When one is different from all others. One can only be part of loneliness. That’s the default position. It’s very difficult for me to explain this idea to someone like you. As you really only see the world in your way and perhaps thru no fault of your own – you have come to the irrevocable belief this is the only way the world is to perhaps you and everyone else.

But for me since I am different. Naturally I perceive the world very differently. But what’s telling is in order to gainfully function in your world. Because I have too, to some degree at least to be able to pay the bills. I really have to make a conscious effort to suppress my world. To even negate it existence. Within limits at least. Temporarily at least. Like maybe how an astronaut has to get into a space suit just before he punches the airlock into the vacuum of space. I am always conscious that I am functioning in an alien environment. So by default having that attitude by itself will mean loneliness will always be an indelible aspect of my existence. It’s always omnipresent as I have to constantly struggle to suppress who I really am.

Q: Do you fear it? Loneliness.

A: I am really two minded about it. On one hand in my own world I could just as well go about my business quite happily without really being bothered about loneliness. But once I venture into your world in my astronaut suit. Since I have to exercise consciousness about what I say, do and think – that’s when I feel loneliness most acutely. As it’s always a struggle for me. Take this interview for example.

What if I told you everything you see now is not so different from a computer generated rendention – the way I am attired. My response. The lag time between the way I form my words. Right down to how I am crossing my legs now. All this is contrived. Carefully stage managed and deliberate to convey the idea that I can be no other than a honorary citizen of your world. When in fact, I am really not like that at all.

I see many things. And they are all occurring at a speed that is maybe twenty or thirty times faster than perhaps how you normally see the known world. Even as we are speaking right now – I have calculated the probability of you asking me the next question to a value of 90% that it is likely to be – can you please share with us an insight into your world? In exactly two minutes from now. You will reach for your glass of water. As in previous encounters the median interval between sips is exactly six minutes and forty two seconds. All this I have derived mathematically thru observation of your body language right down to how many breathes you have taken right down to every fractional minutae of how many times you have blinked since your last question.

I even know you feel slightly intimidated by your line of questioning.

Q: Can you share with us an insight into your world?

We’ve slipped into it. Just now. Yes. Don’t be afraid…allow it’s cold tendrils curl around you – it’s not something loathsome and ridden with pain and suffering. No it’s not.

Rather when loneliness fingers into one’s soul and canals into one’s very essence of being…that’s when a man really come to terms with who he really is.

I don’t expect anyone can outgrow loneliness completely. If they tell you they can – that’s just code for a deep yearning to live a life free from disappointments. Because that is really how it is with people who prefer to be lonely rather than marinating all of themselves with others….don’t ever believe them, when they tell you – ‘I much rather be alone!’ Truth is they have been hurt and disappointed and they’ve just reached the end of the road and they have all but given on the idea of discovering people who might have the sagacity and perseverance to understand them. That was what you were thinking directly after asking me the question.

You see it’s so clear.

Q: Why do you think so many people are afraid to speak openly about loneliness?

A: Being alone and the idea of loneliness has always been seen as just for losers and dysfunctional people. That’s how society defines it – and since we are all to some degree under the influence of social norms. It’s taboo to talk about loneliness candidly. Hence very few people know about it. How can they, when they spend so much of their time avoiding it and running away from the idea of loneliness all the time. Even the prescriptive cure for loneliness is to go out, join a meetup group etc etc. Modern society doesn’t really provision any space or incentives for people to really canal deeper into loneliness to really understand it – instead it’s always seen as loathsome and undesirable.

Q: But you don’t see loneliness as a loathsome thing do you?

A: Do you notice everyone writes books about how to make friends. How to be the most socially popular guy in the office etc. But no one ever writes about how to be alone. That’s because being alone means that you have to come to terms with who you really are.

Most people are very insecure about themselves.

Bear in mind – loneliness is not just a state of mind, like a hermit crossing his legs and chanting omh from morning till night… it’s not. It’s like a crucible.

It’s not easy to be comfortable in your own skin with loneliness. Most people can do that with a pretty girl but when it comes to themselves they disintegrate.

You will find when you try to get better acquainted with yourself – your mind will turn against you…know it for what it is…it is a reflex action. You will suddenly feel the overpowering urge to reconnect with others as soon as you begin a conversation with yourself. You will SMS. You will call your fiends and ask them whether they are free. You will be very restless etc etc.

That is perfectly natural, as for so many years, you have been scripted and conditioned to believe – to be happy…complete..and whole, you must be a friend to everyone else and above all a complete stranger to yourself.

Q: Does autism have anything to do with your decision to be a farmer?

A: Farming is intrinsically a very lonely vocation – you’ve probably watch cowboy movies of farmers working in their fields where the nearest provision shop is half a day’s ride away. That’s really how it is – I don’t imagine for one moment that’s a life that suits most people. They may desire to live like that for a period of time. But to sink in money and make an unconditional commitment to eek out a living from the land for better or worse is really altogether a different mindset.

For me this is the way I much prefer to live. Only because in the social world. I always get into trouble because people misunderstand me all the time – it’s like living in a dark room where one is constantly banging into furniture….and it hurts. I once cooked a meal for a girl and invited her for dinner. She expected something more maybe…but I just thought maybe she would enjoy a fresh halibut with some homemade lemon sauce like me. I stopped and changed a tire for a girl in the ECP once and when she gave me her card and told me, call me and I eventually got to it – she was disappointed that all I wanted was to buy industrial lubrication oil at whole sale prices. So I am always getting myself into fixes in your world no matter how much effort I put in. It’s not as if I don’t try.

But over here, I don’t nearly feel either the need or pressure to seek the approval, validation and respect of others to feel happy about myself or even to make a living.

I think if one is autistic. Then you absolutely have to be the boss of an enterprise or someone at the very top of the food chain where you are the one whose telling people what’s normal and acceptable.

Trust me people can be very malleable when you’re the boss – you could turn up for a meeting wearing pajamas only to find everyone doing the same the next week.

Because if it’s going to be the other way round maybe I will end up cleaning toilets or clearing up dishes while fat people scream at me all the time.

The problem that I see myself in is even if I had a really good job – it would never work out. And I would eventually be ostracized and have to leave. You know I once worked in a Cocoa factory where my bosses were so bloody insecure that they regularly picked on me. As I could memorize every single valve, pipeline and even rattle off reams and reams of technical details off the top of my head that frightened the living shit out of everyone. Eventually I got around to figuring out I should pretend to be really dumb. Maybe I did too good a job at that.

I don’t know. All I know is it’s no good when I have to work in an organization where everyone is expected to be a member of the rah rah brigade. The only time when I really felt comfortable at work was when I was alone and given just a date line where everything had to be done to spec. And in between no one could ever contact me because those countries I was sent too were places that no one ever warned to work in.

Besides farmers are allowed to say stuff like ‘get off my land!’ And absolutely no one in their right mind would ever take offense – people generally make plenty of allowances for farmers – they genuinely like farmers, as farmers are known to be very straightforward, honest and responsible people who may not always have the benefit of highly sharpened social IQ. But deep down they are kindred spirits.

So I am at home here.

For the moment at least.

Q: I am just speculating and throwing out things here. Could this be the reason why you envision a perfect life as one where everyone works in an agricultural commune.

A: Autism is really spectrum. In the moment of my youth. I was like really zonked out. I didn’t have the slightest inkling what was happening in and around me. Eventually I managed to climb out of what I can only describe as a tunnel.

I imagine some autistic people are still in that mythical tunnel and reflecting back on my own experience – it must be incredibly difficult for their parents simply because they’re pulling out rabbits out the hat all the time to figure out the best way to respond.

But I know this tunnel well – I know every feature of it so well.

People think autistic people are psychopaths who cannot love and are incapable of empathy. So they just write them off. And this includes many parents who have given up on their autistic children. But that is not true. I love trees. My dogs are happy and I am capable of love just like any other human if not more.

But the question is do I envision utopia – maybe. Like I said, when one used to be a tunnel and you’ve made it out to the other side successfully. It’s only natural to look on at those who are still stuck inside with brotherly love.

I think working the land is not only good for autistic people – as autistic people can do repetitive task better and with more enthusiasm and diligence than normal people. Commercial farming is no walk in the park – don’t for one moment think it’s any different from any other enterprise where there are best practices along with gold standards. But every year I get the gold cup. I am the best there is out there. You’re dealing firstly with a hard nosed professional whose earned his knight cross with oak leaves diamonds and swords.

You give me one hectare and put me against the so called best and in one full rotation season I will lick him flat like one of those ace fighter pilots.

May seem remarkable. But it’s not. So naturally I like to see others follow in my footsteps and if they want to learn how to farm. I’ll teach them and set it all up.

This way I will never be alone. This way there will always be brotherhood.

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