Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Reason I Jump


I had been hearing about this book, and this amazing human, Naoki Higashida, and "jumped" right on ordering it from my local independent book seller (Julie Wallace at Wallace Books - go there!). However, I found that I didn't jump right on actually reading it. It sat in the pile taunting me. The last thing I want to do after finally climbing into bed, is read about autism. So, I did the opposite. I got up early for a few days (not many, it's a quick read), had my coffee, and read the book as a meditation.

I highly recommend this beautiful book to anyone and everyone. It's written in a Q&A format, and Naoki answers many of the questions associated with autism, at least as they apply to him. Wil doesn't have classic autism, but there was enough of what Naoki said that clicked for me, and I realized he put to words what I have felt in my soul.

One such example is, "Why do you memorize train timetables and calendars?" His answer was because it's fun! He loves the simplicity, clearness and unchanging nature of numbers. They are fixed. They are predictable. Much of an autistic's life is spent managing anxiety, much of their behavior we consider "weird" is their efforts to do just that.

He was asked about free time, and his response was that for many autistics, free time is un-free time. What they spend their time doing is not so much what they want to be doing, as what they can do.

When visiting a Japanese town he came across a giant Buddha, and was moved to tears. "... it was the sheer weight of history and generations of people's hopes, prayers and thoughts that broke over me, and I couldn't stop myself crying. It was if Buddha himself was saying to me, 'All human beings have their hardships to bear, so never swerve away from the path you're on.'" He wants people to know that not all crying is sadness and meltdowns, or being upset, that people with autism can be moved.

But my favorite thing he says is the answer to this question: What are your thoughts on autism itself?

"I think that people with autism are born outside the regime of civilization. Sure, this is just my own made-up theory, but I think that, as a result of all the killings in the world and the selfish planet-wreaking that humanity has committed, a deep sense of crisis exists.

Autism has somehow arisen out of this. Although people with autism look like other people physically, we are in fact very different in many ways. We are more like travelers from the distant, distant past. And if, by our being here, we could help the people of the world remember what truly matters for the Earth, that would give us a quiet pleasure."

Amen.