Susan's Blog

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Happiness is almost never grand

Unbelievable, sometimes, the interactions I have with Nat. So often I take his adult self for granted. Isn’t that the sorest of human regrets — our dumb unseeing of the most precious events? Must I be wearing a formal gown and standing in some fantastic ballroom in order to understand a Great Moment in My Life?

Great Moments in life are cloaked in grey routine, a few seconds in between a question and an answer. Recognizing them may be our biggest challenge as humans, because those are the moments that cause our happiness, our sense of certainty that our lives are worth living. Despite all of the mess, horror, sadness, and evil, there is also sheer unseeing. Wasn’t it Hannah Arendt who said that evil is banal, found in everyday callus interaction and casual cruelty? I feel that the other side of this is that good is also banal, half-hidden by the dullness of the normal.

Just as we don’t need a Hitler to experience true evil and pain, we don’t need a Jesus to experience true goodness. (I mean no disrespect here to my Christian friends.) It’s right there, it always was, in our own backyard, as Dorothy Gale said.

These thoughts are brought to you by Nat, this morning, around 7am. He was on one couch, I was on the other. He was reading some fliers from his social group. I suddenly thought that I wanted to take him with me to my conference today (the Current Trends in Autism 2012 — the fabulous Dr. Margaret Bauman’s brainchild, so to speak). At one o’clock, my favorite autism theorist and practitioner — Dr. Peter Gerhardt — will be giving a talk and I really want to see him. However, Nat is here for the weekend and I didn’t want to be gone for hours. So, hey, why not bring him? He is not registered, but is the CTIA conference going to turn away a brilliant Self Advocate like Nat? Besides, we’re not going to eat anything there — or else he can have my lunch.

So there I was, explaining to him about this conference, and how I wanted him to meet my friend, Peter. I told Nat very earnestly and carefully about the conference, and what Peter does (“he helps people with autism go to work, have jobs, like you do.”) and that there are people at the conference who have small children with autism, who need to know how to help them go to school and learn. I said that these people will want to meet him, because he has autism and he is grown up and has a job at the Shaw’s and is doing so well.

Right in the middle of my carefully-selected, Mindful, almost PC explanation, Nat started to smile. It broke into my serious little speech and cracked my face into a smile, too. “Hey, what?” I asked him. In that briefest flash, the walls and cloaks fell away and it was just Nat and me, no bullshit necessary. He was self-talking, light, round laughter bouncing in his voice, saying, “Yes.” I realized I didn’t have to explain anything to him about what he means to people, what he’s done with his life. He’s living it, and he knows how to enjoy it.




— added by Michael Forbes Wilcox on Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 7:50 am


— added by Donna on Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm

So great!!! These truly are the moments to sit back and savor. I had been singing the song “my Favorite Things” for Dylan and some other songs from the Sound of Music over the past month or so, and showing him the videos on you tube. So the other day in the car out of the blue, he SAYS: “How ’bout raindrops on roses?” so I said, of course “how ’bout whiskers on kittens?” then he said “how ’bout bright copper kettles?” so we do that for the lyrics to the whole first verse of the song. How ’bout all those favorite things, anyway? Makes for a great conversation! And I was soaking it up 🙂

— added by eileen on Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm

We have come a long way, haven’t we? 🙂

— added by Susan Senator on Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 12:31 pm

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