The Perfect Life

The Perfect Life

Often I have been asked, by conference attendees who come to hear me speak, what I want out of life.  People are curious if my future includes people, independence, and decadence, or a scary isolated existence.  Not that there is anything wrong with living alone, but I do believe most people are shocked when I say “I prefer to live with someone.”

Money continues to be a large reason why I still am not where I want to be, only because we live in a society where access to money is necessary to live.  I’ve tried not to dwell on that too much, and instead try to enjoy each dollar to its furthest reach.  I don’t need millions, I just need enough.  Still, I think there is no harm in dreaming.  It helps us set goals, and is generated from that inner desire to see the word for all its good rather than the bad.  As I have said before, dreaming is the conceptual art of the inner self.

Assuming money is no object, and my life work blossomed just as I had hoped, then what is the perfect life for me?

I love the ocean.  I would want to be as close to the ocean as I could get, ideally in California, though any warm climate ocean town would be acceptable.  The beach at my back door, or at least in walking distance so I could view the waves anytime I needed to be calm.  My plot of land would be the smallest I could possibly have that would allow for my home to fit snugly.  My home would be a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian style home, possibly like the Jacob’s house or the Goetsch-Winckler Usonian house.  It would have to have three bedrooms, even after my kids move on, because I would want my children to always have a room to stay in anytime they wish to come home.  Being environmentally conscious, I would love to fit the home with solar panels, and use led lighting. The wonderful thing about FLW homes is all the natural light.  My studio would be in home, where I could record, write, and create on my own.

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I’d love to own a Jeep, though I’d love to convert it to a no emission vehicle.  Hopefully, my home would be located in a place where bicycle, walking, or public transit would be sufficient.  I would spend time in town people watching, meeting locals, and learning about the world in which we live.  I would be the owner of an arts school that uses a teaching approach comprised of unconditional love, open to people of all learning types, and offered the most open scholarship program in the US, making sure that even the poorest of students can learn to play an instrument.

Given that my dream means that my financial needs are covered, I would donate most of my free time to helping public and private schools create disability friendly schools with integrated classrooms.  I want the next generation to grow up believing they fit into this world just as much as anyone else.

My perfect life would also include a not-so-perfect someone to live and to share the beauty of life with.  He wouldn’t need to share my interests or be anything like me, just simply be my counterpoint.  You see, to me, love is not like harmony, but really is more like counterpoint.  In music, a harmony supports the melody but is usually secondary to it.  Counterpoint is when two equal melodies are played together to create a complex and intricate sound.  They sound good together, oscillating between supporting the other melody and leading it.  Sometimes the two melodies even argue, but they always resolve in the end.  To me, counterpoint is love.

My perfect life has no specific goals or ambitions for my children.  I would simply just support what ever goals and ambitions they have for themselves, even if I struggled to see it clearly.  Just because we are forever tied together by DNA and by unconditional love, doesn’t mean I have any right or entitlement to insert myself into my children’s picture of their own future.  I must be invited by my children, and continue to love them even if I am not invited.

Finally, my perfect life would leave behind a story that could inspire others, even if it is just one other.  Pain sometimes needs to be shared, so others do not feel alone in theirs.  Yet, beyond that we should freely give away parts of our triumph, not to our own detriment, but in healthy amounts so as to show others that it does in fact get better.  If a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, then be the spoonful of sugar.

There is not much more to a perfect life for me.  Seeing new places in the world is always welcome, and I do hope to travel as a speaker to places outside my home country.  It really is just that calm stability that comes with accomplishment that I seek.

All Alone – Musical Thoughts from the mind of a 14 year old

When I was a young teen, I spent a huge portion of my time alone in my room.  Music was my only voice to the outside world.  It carried on a frequency that seemed to transcend class, race, social status, and age.  The loneliness inside was buried deep, and cast a purple, obstructive hue on everything I I dared to dream about.

I loved music, but complications like dyslexia and my unusual way of comprehending lessons made it near impossible for me to understand musical theory, or even read music well.  All the music I heard around me was trapped inside my head, and played in endless loop.  I feared being driven to the edge of insanity.

One year, my parents purchased a piece of music writing software called Cakewalk.  The software had a special feature that allowed me to click on the musical staff and in real time hear the note through an external midi instrument generator.  For the first time,  I didn’t need to know how to read the music.  I could just click on the staff until I heard the pitch on the midi meet the pitch in my head.  Despite this process being painfully slow, I composed a dozen pieces including a  3 movement Requiem, and a Musical scored for a full scale symphony orchestra.  I even won the Ga State title in composition for a piece called Tarantella Russo.

How Sweet the Moonlight Sleeps – a musical no one has ever heard

My musical came to me during first outpouring of musical compositions at age 14.  A scribbled a basic dialogue, designed a few scenes, and wrote all of the major performance pieces.  It was one of the few times I wrote words along with my songs.

The story is about a girl named Catarina, a lost and lonely girl who is so in love with music she fears she will never have the capacity to fall in love with another, until one day when she meets a guy who hears the same song in the moonlight as she.  Originally, I only shared this piece with family and close friends performed without lyrics or layers on the piano.

After performing this piece in public for the first time at Northern Arizona University, the response was overwhelming.  For the first time, I got to feel the reaction of a crowd to music that poured from the deep inner workings of my my lonely, 14 year old self.  It made me wish I could somehow traverse time into the past and whisper to that girl that one day, her music would connect to others.

I plan on finishing the work I started 22 years ago.  For now, I want to present to you the lyrics to the song All Alone.  You can read along while listening to me perform the piece on my violin.

https://soundcloud.com/thelauranadine/all-alone-performance-version

The Lyrics

The night has just begun, and the moonlight fills the sky,

This eve feels never ending, I should be glad to say it’s mine.

All my dreams away they run, never turn to say good bye,

To them I send my blessing, ‘cause with me they’ll never be.

Here I stand, all alone, underneath the whisp’ring moonlight,

Like a bird, sing a song, soft and sweet.

Can I feel the deep green ocean, and with my dreams set sail?

Can I let my mind come open and my thoughts prevail?

Here I stand, all alone, right beside this star struck river,

Like a tree, stroke the blue and velvet sky.

Will I only see a lifetime, where I walk it’s paths alone?

Will I ever cry a tear of joy?

(Instrumental interlude)

Here I stand, all alone, held within a vast horizon,

Like a rock, stern and cold, but always seen.

I won’t fade into shadows; I’ll stand among the bold.

Mark my words, I’ll march on.

The night has just begun, and the moonlight fills the sky,

This eve feels never ending, why aren’t I glad to say it’s mine?

I Am Frozen

As difficult as it is for me to wrote about these things, I feel it is important to share my limitations, hoping that it will help others who cannot put to words these feelings.

Today, I am frozen.  A well intentioned thought process has overwhelmed me and now I am physically, and mentally frozen on the set of tasks I must complete.  I do not know why this happens, and I still do not fully know what to do to get back on track.  It’s a very frustrating place to be.

The Background  

I have always been disorganized.  There is something about filing, prioritizing, sorting, labeling, and following up that I just can’t seem to fully grasp.  After years of struggle, I stumbled upon a method called The Action Method.  I spent a little time on their website at behance.com getting an overview of the method, and playing with the free online software.  For the first time, it felt like achieving some organizational skills was possible.  So, I jumped over to Amazon and bought their book called Making Things Happen.


Reading the Book

I have never had help with dyslexia, probably because I didn’t even know I had it until my late twenties.  All I knew was that reading was a skill I was painfully slow in acquiring, and was almost impossible to maintain.  No one ever asked me if the words were moving around the page or vibrating or flipping around, I was just told to try harder.  Most of my interventions are ones I learned about on my own – colored transparencies to cover up the page, low lumen LED lighting so the light is not too bright or noisy, and a guide to isolate paragraphs.  Some days, however, I just cannot read, even using all my little tricks.

Last night, my reading was good.  I was able to read to page 58, of course skipping over all the examples given by the author.  (My autism seems to like bullet points better than stories.)  Words were clear, staying still, and making sense in my head when I read them.  Unfortunately, duty called and I had to go to work.  Reluctantly, I put the book down.

Today, I tried to pick up from where I left off.  Reading was off the charts with a battery of vibrations and movements, causing my eyes to quickly fatigue.  Motivated by yesterday’s good read, I really wanted to learn this system and get my business organized.  I tried with every possible ounce of effort to continue reading, but I just couldn’t.  Frustrated, I threw the book down after covering only 3 pages in an hour.

Try Something, Anything

I couldn’t read anymore, but maybe I could just apply what I had learned so far.  I understood there were three categories to organize everything into – Action, Reference, and Backburner.  I also understood that I needed to gather all my papers, notes, correspondences, and files in order to begin sorting everything into the three categories.  The method is clear, and concise as well as simple.  My mind easily wrapped around the concepts presented in the book.  It was clear to me that I understood, theoretically, how it all worked.
 
People often rate intellectual ability on action.  If a person behaves in a manner that seem intelligent, or if a person can easily complete tasks that are socially interpreted as intelligent tasks, then people assume that person has a high IQ.  Similarly, people often assume that the opposite is true – odd behavior or inability to easily complete tasks must mean a low IQ.  Both assumptions are wrong.  The ongoing frustration I find in autism is the breakdown between my quick intellectual processing and the translation of that processing into a tangible task.  I understand what I must do, but I am paralyzed by the process of projecting my intellectual world onto my physical world, efficiently and in tact.
 

11:01 am – Frozen

I am sitting at the table, absolutely frozen.  I cannot stand up, my eyes are heavy, my nerve endings in my back and seat hurt, and my mind is in an unstoppable loop.  Trying to touch reality, I grab the pen on the table and start to scribble thoughts down (this works for me, though not for all).  
 
 
 
 
I write:
      11:01 am Frozen – Thinking of process to get new organization method in place.  It is to repeat over & over in my head.  Can not seem to make a loop pause or to stop.
     Pictures in my mind – file cabinet -> piles of paper -> computer -> emails -> taxes -> try to sort & can’t -> Repeats

 

     Question in my mind – Fast voiceover way – How do I know difference in action & backburner?  How many years of bills to keep?  What if IRS takes my EIC again?  Why I feel sad?  Why are eyes sleepy all of sudden?  Why can’t I move from table?
 
This loops over and over again for a length of time I cannot describe.  I only noted the time when I finally had the ability to grab the paper and pen already on the table in front of me and write down what was in my mind.  My hope?  That I would distract myself from the loop and be able to move.  It worked.
 
I was able to get up from the table and grab my laptop.  Trying to avoid the loop, I pushed the book from view and started writing this blog post.  As much as I desire to be productive and organized, and even though this Action Method seems like the first real way I can learn, but  the process has me frozen.  It is a change in my routine.  True, it will be a good change, but change is hard.  It is also a task that is not easy for me to execute, so I must learn to use other mental energy, reserved for other tasks, to put this new system into place.  My brain is not able to store this type of functioning in the place it is pre-determined to go, so I must use a different space in my brain.  This means I am actually using mental effort to “re-wire” my own mind.  It is hard and very tiring.
 
Don’t believe this is possible?  The Human Calculator, Rudiger Gamm, is not a math savant, but learned to do complex calculations on his own.  A scan of his brain, done while he performed math tasks in his mind, proved that Rudiger was using areas of his mind, reserved for other tasks, to do the math.  
 
I believe that my advanced adaptations are done the same way.  I work hard to train myself to use other mental space to complete tasks I am inherently poor at doing.  Though, there are some tasks that are so monumental that I just do not have the mental energy to learn it.  I have helpers for those tasks.
 

Answers

I don’t have any answers.  Each day and in each stage of life, autism presents new challenges.  Some challenges are left over ones from previous years when I didn’t have the skill to cope.  Other challenges are just unveiling themselves as I approach new areas of life.  the only thing that is becoming apparent to me is that I may not be able to totally work alone.  In building my business, I will need to make room for an employee or two that can keep me on track and organized.  I am not giving up on this new method, I just may need help executing the method until it becomes routine.  I still think The Action Method is the best method I have seen to date, and I plan on making it a part of my life.
 
If you take away anything from my story today, it should be that being frozen is quite different from inaction.  If I were presented with help from another and I refused to try, cooperate on any level, or apply what I know I can do – that is inaction.  That is a choice I make.  If I cannot move, or cannot ask for help – that is frozen.  I have no power over myself when I am frozen and all I can do is redirect my mind.