Susan's Blog

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Solipsism, autism, and Jimmy Buffet

I don’t know
I don’t know
I don’t know where I’m a-gonna go
When the volcano blows.
— Jimmy Buffet

The other day, I heard Nat whispering, “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know where…volcano.”
I said, “Nat! I know that song!” and startled him out of his Parrot Head world by singing the Jimmy Buffet song to him.
“No ‘I don’t know, I don’t know,'” he said, but he was laughing.
Ah, Nat, your mouth says “No” but your eyes say, “Yes, yes!” So I kept singing it, and he kept laughing. Max looked on, smiling. Ben was quiet.

We just do what we can to be happy. In the end, there is only oneself and loved ones to rely on. Though we may find others to help us and to connect with us, ultimately, they are few. I think in some ways Nat doesn’t know that at all, and in some ways, he knows it better than anyone. Full-blown autism can be like pure self-ishness (in a non-pejorative sense, meaning, that it is all about the self, almost like solipsism ) and on the other hand, autism can be a kind of pure self-lessness, whereby one is utterly dependent on, or at the mercy of, the forces around one.

The solution to my Time problem (I lack a crucial fifteen minute transition time from Ben’s therapy ending to Nat’s coming home) is that I am not going to hire some fabulous young person who will figure out just how to be Nat’s buddy, keep him calm and happy for those fifteen minutes. I met two people yesterday, and even though they were kind and smart and willing, I just did not feel that I could entrust the situation to them. Call me a clinging mother but I would rather do the job myself and be all tired out but certain everyone else is alright, than let go and let God. Or let go and let Northeastern Students. I know, I know, one day Nat’s not going to have me around, but I — evil genius that I am — I am working on never dying. But then — oh shit — that would mean I would have to experience my loved ones dying one day. Okay, that’s not going to happen, either. Seriously, how in the world do I solve this one? How do I prepare Nat, Max, Ben, or me for that day?

Don’t think about it, is what we all say (unless we are Buddhists or something). When Benj realized I was going to die one day, the tears splashing his milky cheeks were delicious drops I wanted to revel in. I told him not to think about it, but that yeah, it was true. But a long way off. He said, “What’s the point?”

“To live and be happy while you can is the point.”

The trick here is that nothing huge is going to get resolved in a few days. I find that to become ready for big letting-go-type things with Nat, it’s as if an ocean has to pass over me first. Wave after wave of experience and event must thunder past me and over me, and I have to learn how to first tread water and then to actually swim in the stuff.

Extended metaphors aside, I ain’t ready and neither were those students. So, I worked out a solution with Ben’s therapist, whom I adore. (She looks a bit like Laura, small and scholarly, and smart and caring. She also wears terrific little jackets. Anyway, Ben loves her and I know exactly why.) So we all flexed a little, and here I am at home with two of my sons and the seas are calm, for now.

But I don’t know, I don’t know…


Andy and I went to a Buffet concert when I was QUITE pregnant with Jack. I’ll never forget how miserable I was sitting on the ground in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin, sucking in the pot-smoke fumes and watching the couple in front of us engaging in various sexual acts … Seriously, how turned on can Jimmy Buffet make you. Get a room!

Anyway, the thing I’ll REALLY never forget is the man I saw when we were walking to our car. He was talking on his cell phone, strolling around the parking lot wearing absolutely nothing but his brown wing-tips ..


— added by Judith on Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 5:18 pm

“To live and be happy while you can is the point.”


But please learn how to spell “solipsism”, before you depart this vale of tears :-).

— added by Phil Schwarz on Friday, November 9, 2007 at 3:22 am

Thank you Phil!
I thought I saw it spelled both ways, but I trust you far more than what Google may turn up, so I changed it! 🙂

— added by Susan Senator on Friday, November 9, 2007 at 6:43 am

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