Chillin’ out with Austin Shinn’s book “A Flickering Life: A Memoir of #Autism”

"I hate the myth of childhood. The movies and TV love to paint childhood as a time of innocence and purity. You're free after all. You can do what you want. You believe in fantastical ideas. Childhood is a time of whimsy and fun and imagination. Please. Here's the truth: childhood is a nightmarish time where everything is out to get you. Movies and TV terrify you. Darkness terrifies you. You have absolutely no power at all. Your life can be upended at a moment's notice. Everything around you can be destroyed. Childhood isn't a fantasy unless you mean Game of Thrones."
Quote reads: “I hate the myth of childhood. The movies and TV love to paint childhood as a time of innocence and purity. You’re free after all. You can do what you want. You believe in fantastical ideas. Childhood is a time of whimsy and fun and imagination.
Please.
Here’s the truth: childhood is a nightmarish time where everything is out to get you. Movies and TV terrify you. Darkness terrifies you. You have absolutely no power at all. Your life can be upended at a moment’s notice. Everything around you can be destroyed. Childhood isn’t a fantasy unless you mean Game of Thrones.”

This is a quote from Austin Shinn’s book A Flickering Life: A Memoir of Autism, which I’m really enjoying. I started and stopped it a few times, over the past months. But today I spent a longer while with it, just relaxing this morning, instead of running around in hyperdrive mode, like I did yesterday. I really wish there were an audiobook version I could listen to while I’m out walking. Maybe I can get an audio reader… Dunno. I need to look around for one.

As I said, I am really enjoying this book. That’s echolalic because saying so is very true, and it feels good to say it.  I’d say it again, but unless you feel the words yourself, the echo of them may be more annoying than enjoyable.  So, I’ll stop.

Is it wrong to enjoy an account of another person’s pain? There’s plenty of discomfort he talks about, but that’s not why I’m enjoying it. The realism of it, as well as the shared experiences… that’s what I’m enjoying. Not so much the cringe-worthy moments, which bring back my own bad memories of bullying… never being recognized as having specific issues that were blocking me… the trauma of change… school’s negative aspects… This is why it’s taken some start-stop to get going reading it.

Then again, there’s a lot to be gained from seeing that your cringe-worthy moments weren’t yours alone. Someone else on the planet actually went through those things, too. It’s not a sense of schadenfreude I feel — more the relief at knowing, once and for all, I wasn’t crazy or “imagining” those things. And it wasn’t right for adults to blame me because other kids were bullying me.

No, I really didn’t do anything wrong enough to deserve that treatment. Other than being different. I became an insufferable prig, when my family moved from a small city to a very small town when I was 10. I truly did consider myself better and smarter than my rural peers. It wasn’t hard, really. I still do, to be honest… At least, in certain ways. In other ways, I’m a total idiot, and they’re geniuses.

Popular myths about childhood — as it’s portrayed in movies and television — bear no resemblance to my own experience. Except Game of Thrones. Austin is so right about that one. Let that sink in for a while. Probably the most real time I had in school, was when we studied Lord of the Flies in English class. I kept looking around the room wondering which one of my peers correlated with which character.

Well, it’s a lazy day, and I’m low on resources after my hyperdrive extravaganza yesterday. So, I’ll stop here.

More to come. Just wanted to mention I’m reading this book. And you should, too.

🙂

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