When I was seventeen and studying at Deerwood for the summer, I met Eric, an unusual fellow, a violinist, who decided we were meant for each other, and would not leave me alone. At first it was flattering, but after he composed a string quartet for me and then proposed marriage, he scared the daylights out of me. We were still kids, and he was, well, brilliant but weird, and anyhow I was hardly ready to have a steady boyfriend, much less a ‘fiancé!’
For the next three years, however, he pursued me relentlessly before finally accepting that I would not marry him. Could not marry him. His devotion felt like a burden, and by the time I finally convinced him that I meant it, he had dropped out of Harvard, spent inordinate amounts of money seeing a psychiatrist and continued to be convinced that I was the only one in the world who could make him happy. (The psychiatrist, he told me, finally gave up on him except to suggest he try and get me back! No pressure there….)
Now, all these years later, I recognize that he must have been an early example of what we now call “autism” or “being on the spectrum.” My heart goes out to him, and all those brilliant young people who struggle with extraordinary minds and talents, but whose psyches that are not yet altogether developed to help society make a difficult transition. I wonder if they might be a new kind of human being, brilliant but out of alignment with a world not quite ready for their gifts.
I believe they just might be our ‘new people.’
Oh Eric, I wish I had known how to hear you then, and how I wish I could hold you now….
….now, only one generation later, when people similar to Eric are being born onto the planet every day, who resonate to a higher frequency than has been the norm; these folks seem to be evolving towards a coming world that does not yet quite exist. I think of a ten-year-old boy I know whose passion is ‘garbage collection’ and who has become a working mascot of his local Trash Collectors! I envision him as a forerunner who, in just a few years, will help transform our “Waste” society to a “No Waste” society.
Eric’s gift was music, and he may have been an early member of this tribe who are brilliant, but out of synch with the world they got born into. The fact that he felt safe with me makes me wonder if I, also, might be ‘one of those people.’
When I was growing up, the joke in my house, as I left for school in the morning, was to call after me, “Whatever you do, don’t be yourself!” In Eric’s house, his parents, not knowing what else to do, sent him away to a private boarding school he detested….
Through the years he never altogether let go of me: I was introduced to each of his three wives in turn; he sent baby gifts for each of my children and periodically he would show up in California to visit us, which was always awkward, to say the least. During the last week of his life, he phoned me to say goodbye, and to thank me for the time we’d had together. We even both cried on the phone, and I surprised him—and myself—by singing to him the melody line of the first movement of the String Quartet he had composed for me when we were teenagers! When I met his wife years later, she told me that she had been at his bedside during that last phone call and he had cried while I sang his music to him. How I was able to recall every note of that Fugue in that moment, I have no idea.
Oh Eric, I am so sorry to have hurt you so badly all those years ago, each of us wired to perceive subtleties we had no idea what to do with except to spray them all over the place like arrows in shaky hands that always missed the target. Today, I expect I would be better at taking you on, recognizing your unusual brilliance that so frightened me at the time. I thank you for your stalwart affection and wonder if I might also be somewhere on this ‘spectrum’ they keep talking about, and if you recognized it in me.
After all, I was an odd kid, too, dreamy and scared, fascinated by unusual things but bored silly by what we were being taught in school. I was a girl who preferred dark shades of color to pinks and yellows, and who remembered all my dreams and wrote them down. I was a gazer who watched the other kids play, and who noticed—and felt sorry for—the teacher who brought her lunch to school in a Band Aid box. Sitting still in class felt like punishment, and I daydreamed about dancing on a stage while Miss Boulders tried to teach us Grammar. I longed for wind in my face on a hill by the sea, and although I sort of tried to follow Arithmetic on the blackboard, I inevitably gave up halfway through and knew I was too stupid.
I wonder how many of these folks we define as being ‘on a spectrum’ recognize that we are counting on them to come to our rescue, even though none of us have any idea what that means.
I sometimes wonder if I was not born when I was, in order to be here right now on earth at this moment in history for this transition. It’s as if I’ve been preparing for this time in the world all my life, to be one of the ones learning how to adjust to a new frequency, find the others on my wavelength, look around at the size of the task, take a deep breath and dive in wherever I am needed. And to have as much fun doing this as I possibly can. Whew!
My particular task may be nothing more nor less than reminding all of us to breathe…breathe…. Deeply and evenly… and laugh; to have soup simmering on the stove and the guest bed made up with fresh sheets in a quiet room upstairs. To make friends and tell our stories, holding one another when we shake with fear as we recognize the size of the task we are taking on.
Meanwhile, I watch for the young ones—and find them everywhere I look. They are from every culture in the world, of every skin color, every gender, every size. They tend to be rather beautiful, often outrageously bright; many are exorbitant in their talents and others still too awkward to leave their rooms. Some never stop talking, and others look down and stay silent; some need to be noticed and others try to blend into the wallpaper. Many, if not most, hang onto their phones to stay connected, as if their lives depended on it….
Puberty, which is not easy for anybody, seems to be especially hard for many of these folks as it is not clear to them—or to us—which gender they belong to and they often become isolated from themselves as well as from others their age. I watch them finding one another across cultural lines and I silently cheer, especially when they fall in love and their babies arrive like a new wave of humans not easily recognizable by current definitions. They are changing the spectrum of what it means to be ‘us,’ love affair by love affair—not easy, but I pray that they find one another—we find one another—and recognize that no matter what, we are all kin, seeking a new balance of mind and personality to fit a new era in the world.
That is my prayer for all of us, that we raise the bar and raise the frequency through all the sturm und drang of our time, as we try and re-calibrate to a raising of consciousness on this planet. Right now it looks like chaos, of course, but that is inevitable. And at best, exciting.
As the society gradually comes to terms with this growing group of people amongst us—all over the world—and vocabularies include new words to describe different minds and behaviors, and public punishment diminishes and people can openly look for and find one another in the crowd, then things can change, as they have already begun to do. I hope so, for these folks may be the ones—or the forerunners of the ones—who will save us from ourselves because, after all, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for… ourselves willing ourselves to stay alive on shifting sands, willing ourselves to help one another live in new ways, together on new ground, together in new ways, experimentally and with courage, and laughing a lot when we can.
There is nobody here but us, each doing our thing as best we know how even when we are scared out of our wits, all together in this extraordinary phase-shift time. I think we each know it’s got to be all of us, not just some of us, who count on this spectrum of possibilities because the jigsaw puzzle picture only makes sense when every single piece finds the place it fits.
If the Universe knows what it’s doing then I, for one, choose to trust it.