**Won't you please share the joy of WYFP by recommending?
All kinds of little things have gone wrong for me lately. Yesterday I entirely lost track of what day it was and posted WYFP, confusing some people... and if any of you typed out a fp and clicked submit only to be ushered to a "this diary does not exist" page, after I realized my mistake and deleted it, I apologize very sincerely. I spent today recharging... I baked some cookies, I took a nap, I meditated as one meditates who has no aptitude for it. And I feel a little better.
The topic I've been trying to write about for a couple weeks and am finally posting about this week, is Asperger's syndrome, a mild autism-spectrum disorder I was born with. It's just so much the way I am that I didn't quite know how to approach it to tell you about it, so much of this diary is about Henry David Thoreau, who was enough like me to seem like a reasonable substitute.
The main intellectual feature of Asperger's syndrome seems to be obsessing on idiosyncratic areas of interest, and drawing connections between the various elements of the subject areas. This can be intensely enjoyable, and often productive. Like many "aspies," I don't consider that a disease precisely. Thomas Jefferson is now widely believed to have had Asperger's syndrome, Albert Einstein also seemed to have the symptoms, and Henry David Thoreau I can assure you was an aspie. It enabled their unique achievements.
Thoreau advised, with wonderful insight into his own nature, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." I first read Walden as a preteen, long before I knew what asperger's syndrome was or that I or Henry had it, and his writing resonated deeply with my own thoughts and feelings and convinced me that it must be okay to be this way.
But to be this way can also be isolating. I always took it for granted that Henry suffered and was a lonely guy, because I knew I was suffering and lonely (and emotionally abused and bullied). Asperger's syndrome tends to mean finding social contact a little overwhelming, and it tends to mean not having quite the same social instincts other people have, simply because our brains are wired a little differently. Walden's bracing philosophy is more or less Thoreau's version of common sense: most of what society celebrates as good is vanity, and mean as dirt; our obligation is not to social norms but to being fully ourselves; simple honest living is efficient not only materially but spiritually; success is to live deeply and undeluded, seeking the full measure of both mean and sublime. I think he formulated from his unusual traits a prescription for living which many others have also found instructive, though they would violate their own nature if they marched quite in time with his drum.
I see Henry as a kind of mystic, and love and being as the key themes of mysticism. His focus was distinctly toward the latter. The essential meaning of his pantheism or transcendentalism seems to be that he experienced the sublime more fully in things (in nature) than in people. In his entire life Henry never had a real romance and I'm not sure he ever felt entirely satisfied with the friendships he had--several of his poems express with special poignancy his longing for true connection. His love of nature seems to me simultaneously a joyful perseverative interest and a craving for integration--for community, if you will.
I've written about community before in WYFP. It's something I'm not sure I could ever take for granted, because it's something I'd rarely felt before I got online in about 1996, when I was in college. Like many aspies, I'm hyperlexic--I read and write better than most people, and speak and listen less well. And text skirts the difficulties and anxiety of eye contact, gesture and expression, and physical awkwardness. I experienced being accepted online, being a friend, even admired, even, sometimes, a leader. Over time, it changed my perspective somewhat. Love; generosity; kindness; being-in-community--what a miracle.
Myself and alltherestofyou, Walden Pond and Concord Village, authenticity and community, being and love, science and religion, mean and sublime--both/and. People with asperger's syndrome are described as having "more than a dash of autism;" we tend to fold in upon ourselves and our thoughts and perceptions and to be rather rigid thinkers. There remains a very distinct surface tension for me between online and "in real life." I'm able to venture out of my lonely real-world hermitage into the virtual world to be a part of things. My life is half full, and my live is half empty, and can I live all of that? Now that would be transcendentalism.
I'm not sure how much this conveys about Asperger's syndrome (Wikipedia has a more direct take on it) or anything else, but here you go.
What's your effing problem tonight?