I was out walking the dog the other night. It was dark, windy and cold so I was pretty well wrapped up. I look unconventional at the best of times but I suspect I was even more unusually that night. Trainers on my feet, long colourful woolly socks up to my knees, bright blue and black shorts, bright blue softshell jacket, bright orange hoody over my head and a (rather sombre) black woolly hat to top off my ensemble. At least my dog is trendy, a whitish poodle with rainbow collar and lead. I think we probably stand out a bit. So it is not unusual for the local louder youth to make comments to me. Unless it is some greeting, I don’t usually understand what they say but their mates laugh and we all continue on our way. I don’t usually give it a second thought, teenagers have to rebel against family and society because their brains are wired differently (or rewiring I suppose). We share that in common.
So these two guys are walking towards me, cans in hand, one being a bit rowdy I suppose. I am greeted by the loud one and since I am an adult, I return the greeting. Normally I would send an ambiguous “aye” in return but for some reason I do a more southern English “OK mate?”. Normally I would reply in a monotone, but instead I raise the tone at the end into a question. I get a reply along the lines of that he is doing fine all the while walking past each other. I start wondering about the guy that spoke to me. It is attention getting behaviour I suppose or perhaps he is exerting his will on his environment and showing that he is control some way. I wonder if he needs to be seen to exist. Was he ignored as a child? What would happen to his behaviour if he didn’t have an audience?
My mind goes off on this tangent and gets rather creative. Suppose I had the power to influence what another person saw? I imagine we actually stopped to talk and I ask him why he needed to speak to me. My power allows me to alter his perception of reality. In his mind, he is transported on to the top of Ben Chonzie (normally called Ben-y Hone), it is night time and the ground is highlighted by moonlight. My power allows me to see through his eyes, and feel what he feels. Does he panic? How important is his friend now? I wonder if such an experiment would raise the man’s awareness of his behaviour. Maybe though, he is just a nice guy in a good mood and being friendly.
Later it occurs to me that there is a common theme in the stories my mind produces, and in the books I enjoy reading. They all cover needing to experience the world through somebody else’s senses. The doctor that connects up to a patient’s nervous system in order to experience the patient’s symptoms and therefore better diagnose an illness. An embodiment of Gaia that teachers environmental science but through touch can share the experience the person’s actions has on the environment and change their awareness. The detective stories that need to understand the motivation of the criminal and why they were driven to break the law.
I want to understand how other people think. I want to read their minds. But why bother I wonder? It is an interesting one that. I don’t think it is an altruistic motivation. I think it is about me feeling scared which in turn is a perhaps a lack of self-confidence. Is this triggered through wanting to blend into society? To be normal? Unconsciously I suspect it was but equally unconsciously I set myself apart. My normal is to be different because I am autistic. I can’t hide something so fundamental forever although I gave it a good go for nearly fifty years. I also think there is more to this than just anxiety. I want to read other peoples’ minds so that I have something against which to compare my own. I want to understand my mind and the way it works.
Unfortunately I can’t read minds so what do I do? I suspect the only way forward is to let other people know how I think and maybe some of them will reciprocate and tell me about their thoughts. In essence then this is what my blog is about. Putting my thoughts out into the world to see what happens. But let’s be honest here. A few people read my written thoughts. A few people even respond to my writings but I am not changing the world here. More than anything I am flushing things out of my head so that I can continue life.
But I want more than that. In the stories I write, there is a dialogue. The thoughts of the protagonist can be projected (or spoken in the case of the doctor) to the recipient, and the recipient responds. I have this need for dialogue too. I suspect that what I actually saw in the youth is what I see in me. I need attention to substantiate myself. I need to be see. I need to be acknowledged and I want an audience to witness that. I don’t think this comes from my autism, I think it comes from my upbringing. It is rather unfortunate then that attention seeking behaviour and autism are rather on opposite sides. It is a bit of a paradox.