Through the river locks of #autistic joy

Quebec river locks
I’m coming ’round to my desired routines again, getting back to some narrow interests that have drawn me in and held my keen interest for years at a time. I’m finding myself able to think again, after a months-long hiatus of all-consuming DO-DO-DO–GO-GO-GO. I’ve been so busy “upping my output” that I’d lost touch with the simple act of taking in.

I had all but forgotten about some of those vital interests — the books I’d bought to read (devour, really) and ingest and think on, long and deeply, got stashed in my office and I haven’t spent much time there at all for months… the papers I’d downloaded to take in and consider also ended up in piles in my office… the theories and philosophies that have lit up my life so brightly for so many years, faded into the background of my day-to-day rush to Get Things Done…

Yeah, I got busy. And necessarily so. All of it was important. All of it held my interest and taught me useful things.

But as with any all-consuming effort that flames up in a series of inner fireworks, there’s a price to be paid, and that price was the steady flame of joy from what’s held my interest in a steady, rapt embrace.

I think perhaps this is a distinctly autistic feature of mine. I tend to be so completely consumed by what I’m doing at the time, I lose sight of everything else. And then my best-laid plans to do such-and-such a thing in such-and-such a timeframe… well, that all flies out the window like a caged bird that’s realized the keeper left its door unhooked. At the same time, my “interim” interests (intellectual sprints in the midst of my conceptual marathon) tend not to last long. Maybe a few weeks, maybe a few months. And I can lose interest in them rapidly, so that the full roster of Productive Activities I’ve earmarked for doing… well, that just gets lost along the way, too.

So, I end up with a lot of things started, and not a lot finished in the intended timeframe. Ultimately, I do finish things. But it’s years after the original plan. One of my books took nearly 20 years to complete. While others took me maybe 6 months, tops. Other works have been under construction for a couple of years, and they still don’t feel like they’re ready to be done.

I guess I do need to let my imagination “off the lead” and let it run around wildly for a few weeks/months at a time. It re-invigorates me, when I’ve reached a point of overwhelmed ennui, and nothing I’ve been working on makes any logical sense anymore — not because it has no sense, but because I’ve pushed myself to the point of not being able to reason, to think, or to draw anything useful out of what I’m pondering.

It’s cyclical. It needs to be. And yes, it doesn’t conform to the usual timeframes of the neurotypical world. How do those people live that way, anyway? I don’t get it. It seems both forced and dessicated, as though there’s no room for anything human at all. Just a mechanization of our creative impulses.

I can say this (and complain bitterly about it), because I make my living as a Program Manager at one of the planet’s largest high-tech companies. I see (and have to live) this forced, artificial, mechanized way of doing things every moment of my professional life, and I don’t like it. I’d love to toss a wooden shoe in the whole works and grind the teeth off the gears. Stop the whole machine from working that way. But alas, ’tis not in the best interests of my ongoing employment to do that. I like to eat. I like having a roof over my head. I like being able to afford to live my life. So, I keep those gears turning.

It’s a master-class in Everything Not To Do, If You Want To Keep Your Spirit Alive.

Well, so it goes. Railing against the imperfections of the world is all very well and good, but it’s much more productive to counteract it.

And I guess that’s what I do, when I move at my own speed and meander through my personal projects. Like a boat moving between two bodies of water that are at different levels, I need to progress gradually through the “locks”, letting the waters flow in/out and lift (or lower) my proverbial vessel, as I move from one level to the next.

Maybe, just maybe, that gradual way is my own way reclaiming my own autistic identity and reinforcing my own “organic” process (much as I hate that expression). The daily grind really does show me how I do NOT want to conduct my own affairs. And while it does grind me down, and there’s a big part of me that wishes I could make a living doing what I love to do, rather than doing what others will pay me to do, because they’re under the impression that it “needs” to be done… I’m not holding my breath. I’m an inventor and a builder, not a marketer, and I’m not going to waste my time trying to force myself to work in a mode that doesn’t suit me.

So, the day job remains in place. Until I can make a living otherwise.

Well, the day awaits. I have a bunch of things I need to do, and I’ve got a social afternoon ahead of me. I’m looking forward to it. Hangin’ with another Autist. It’s always a pleasure and a relief.

Till Monday rolls around, and it’s back to the same old…

In the meantime, though, I’m good, just going along at my own pace, piecing things together as I go, and keeping my spirit alive and lively.

With joy.

All that joy.

6 thoughts on “Through the river locks of #autistic joy

  1. I’m happy to hear that you are getting some joy. I have had a draining few months – I cope, but I consistently take more out than I put back in. Fortunately I can cling to my current deep interest, which is the one thing that keeps me going. The “steady flame of joy from what’s held my interest in a steady, rapt embrace”, that is so well put, it’s exactly what it feels like. I get the temporary interests as well, and I get quite a lot of joy out of them as well, but one deep intense interest is what keeps you sane and protected.
    By the way, locks are great. I grew up near a canal, and some Sunday afternoons we would go to watch ships go through the locks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VisualVox

      Thanks for writing. That is SO Cool, that you grew up where you could watch ships go through locks! Thanks for sharing that. I should probably do a pilgrimage to do that somewhere. The whole process fascinates me, and it’s an apt metaphor for how my life goes. Thanks again for writing – and sorry to hear you’ve had a draining few months. That seems to be “going around”.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: #Autistic joy – it’s a thing. And we should have more of it. – Aspie Under Your Radar

  3. Sister, I am stuck, like you, in wondering about the long-term future of the day job. It’s not that it’s a bad job and it’s not that there aren’t aspects of it I like, but I wonder if and when I can let it go to focus on what I think I need, personally, to sustain me through my life. We shut down the little voices inside us that say “do this” so long we don’t know what’s us and what’s society telling us what to do…at least, I do. I spend way too much time being confused at what’s my inner voice and what’s my inner nanny, shaped by years of being good and doing “the right thing” and knowing how to justify any random action I’ve had in the words that people in this society accept. Maybe this is what a midlife crisis is…but heck, why do we all seem to get it a couple of years (or so) after we realize we’re Autistic?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VisualVox

      I hear you loud and clear. Part of my issue is the alexithymia, where I don’t necessarily even know how I feel about things, so I just go along, because it’s the easiest thing to do. Much of my life, it seems, has been an extended case of mimicry and functional echolalia, where I just do what others are doing (and I do it as well as them, if not better), and then everyone’s like, “Hey! You’re totally skilled at that! You should keep doing that as much as you can!”.

      And once I figure out how I really feel about it, all I can muster is a “Meh…”

      So much for Monday Morning Motivation 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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