learning from a barefoot movement

‘First they ignore you then they laugh at you then they fight you then you win’ – Mahatma Gandhi

Any proposed new idea that is going to  challenge a way or belief that has been followed and indoctrinated  for so long is going to gain immense resistance. But to keep going along with systems and ideas that we know are no longer working especially when those systems are ones concerning our children, is no longer justifiable. We are in a time that is requiring brave people to come forth with new perspectives, even if the perspectives are seemingly unorthodox, in the beginning. It is no secret that the education systems in western civilisation are having an adverse effect on children. Some of the most revolutionary ideas of how we may move towards a more diverse and nurturing educating way to serve future generations of humanity more effectively, is coming forth now.  Having  had children that patently do not fit the mainstream educational systems without having to clearly identify necessary provisions in order for them to participate, indicates that change is necessary and any system that no longer endorses notions of what we are deeming to be normal and abnormal is much welcomed from where i am standing.

my superman

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life on the autism journey is always a bitter-sweet battle for me. The battle rather has more to do with the outside world than the sanctuary of our own spaces.  My predicament comes from trying to figure out how much do I insist he learn to change and conform himself to fit into what has been deemed to be acceptable social norms, and how much is simply left to remain exactly as it perfectly is.

Autism has this beautiful quality where it demands that you be impeccable with your word. you must say only what is true. Your must keep to your word, always and precisely in what you are offering, anything less always results in deep confusion and distress. It is a mindful practice, one that challenges me always and where emotional attachments play a very minute role. Its takes great discipline to become aware of everything you speak and to remember that everything to the Autism mind is literal. It is one of my most favourite qualities, amongst the many. I am learning, that not everything said has to be taken so personally, i have learnt to become unattached to the words, love has many guises. I am not hurt if my superman voices that he doesn’t miss me when we are apart or when he periodically moves out of home and into his nanas house and says he’s staying forever at age four.  I’m  not needing him to fill any illusionary gaps of insecurity within myself.  I’m not needing him to kiss and cuddle on my terms when intimacy for him feels like an intrusion into his space.  More often that not, his affection is shared through rough and tumble games on the couch, and for me that will always be enough.

How much do I train his indifference? Endeavour to adapt his behaviours so that they are more suitable, more pleasant to the outside world? He will most likely always say inappropriate things at inappropriate times yet they will always be truthful. Do I try to filter the truth for the benefit  of others, to spare unanticipated feelings being hurt through their misunderstanding? Do I even have the right? This is after all who he is, in all his shades, the difference is, he really is no different to any of us at all. We are all of this, accept most of us just don’t say out loud what we are thinking, and more often that not filter our truths in fear of being judged, not liked, or to keep up with what ever disguise we have going on in that moment anyway. The Autism mind will always struggle to understand the false fabrications we invent to cover up true emotions being expressed, they will always state the obvious in any given moment no matter how socially awkward or offensive it may be, and i am drawn to this outwardly candid approach, there is greater depth for learning here.

We have in the safe sanctuary of our space, learnt not to take offence to the words. We have learnt to laugh more easily,  even at the inappropriate, especially at the inappropriate.   We are beginning to understand that the words and actions on their own, carry no feeling they are just words, just actions.  They hold no power until we decide that they do. It is only then that our own insecurities paired with the words or actions hold any force, or can take on impact in a negative or positive way in our lives. We are always going to come across people in our lives, who we will disagree with, who’s words and actions will not serve us, this is the beauty of life, the beauty of diversity. We have much to learn from the Autism mind. They have the ability to detach, to not place meaning in the meaningless. ‘ Suffering is universal. The origin of Suffering is Attachment. The Cessation of Suffering is Attainable. Path to the Cessation of suffering is, (after all) Detachment’ -Buddha

 

a letter to a teacher

 

Dear…

I am sending you this in response to a conversation you had with a student, my daughter, a few weeks ago prior to the end of term.Firstly I wish to express that by writing this letter, by no means am I wanting this to cause any disturbance or ill feelings with in the teaching and school environment, my intention here is simply to inform you of a different perspective on a simple conversation for your further consideration.

The conversation in question proceeded with you asking my daughter if she knew what it was she wanted to do with her life after secondary school, or if she had an idea of what it is she could see herself doing with her future.

Undoubtedly, this is a relevant and important question that these young adults need to begin thinking about. It is a question of such significance that often it is asked over and over again many times though out a single life time.

My daughter, has indeed considered this question in great depths over the past few years, it is a conversation that naturally occurs quite regularly in our family around the dinner table. My daughter is insightful and clear about what it is that simply makes her happy and what it is that does not. She has an understanding about the things in life that drive her to want to know more, learn more about, take action on, become a voice for. She is passionate in life and understandings about the things that Really matter. Her strongest and most obvious caliber is her ability to create; her visual mind is of extraordinary magnitude.

When she answered this question for you, she gave you her absolute truth.She gave you a lovely list of things she ‘could see’, and I emphasize here, ‘see’ herself doing with her future. Her list I imagine would have consisted of many creative ideas and inventiveness. I understand that from an academic point of view this may not seem like a viable way to pave for ones future, that these choices that are being considered may or may not lead to what society deems a suitable or economically sustainable way of living. Your responses however, whether it be what you actually believe, or a moment of unconscious thought, to my daughter’s ideas about her life’s future were quite disheartening and surprising to say the least.   You proceed to inform her that her ideas she was considering were merely just that of ‘hobbies’ and that they were not a means for ‘making a living’. I don’t wish to quote here on the exact way in which the conversation took place, however what does matter is the understanding of which my daughter walked away with from the experience.

You have in your judgments of what is considered to be a viable future and what is not, bought her to a place at a vital young age to question herself about her abilities to offer something of value and insight to the world in which we live.

Now, my question to you is this, if we are not to guide these young minds to follow their dreams, to pursue their passions and the very things that are the driving force behind what makes them who they are as individuals, and instead lead them to follow the ideas and beliefs of another on the advice that it is a better way, or the only sustainable way; are we not creating a society of individuals who need to perform rather than live and rather than acceptance of who they are, conditioning them into an idea of what they should be?

I beg you to consider this, if we are to follow the essence of who we are, and are fortunate enough to be able to offer a valuable truth of ourselves to the world and the people in which inhibit this world, are we not in essence creating a better place for ourselves and those around us to live. Where would we be with out the creative writers who offer their poetry for you to teach, where would we be without the painters who have embellished this planet with extraordinary pieces that are admired and past down through the tests of time, and the person who sat with pencil in hand and drew the outline of the satchel you carry your important papers in, and the books that are written, the gardens you stroll through, the glorious meals created from ingredients before they find themselves into the recipe books you cook from.

There are millions of ways to walk this life, my daughter is blessed enough that she falls into many, many ideas in which she will pave her way, all of which I’m certain will have a creative flare. And when I think of that prospect for her, I am unconcerned with the amount of money she will make, or even the details in how it will happen. For now, all that is important is that she believes in herself.

You hold an important and highly valued role within the school community, and have always been highly regarded in your opinion towards particular subjects with my children. It must be recognized that your view does impact the ways in which we move these young minds towards their futures. That you are in fact, in a position of great significance by educating and shaping these minds with ideas about themselves and the choices they will need to make.

Another student at the school, recently showed me a thought provoking piece by Alan Watts, titled ‘What if money was no object’ that is quite similar to that of which I have expressed here, if you are yet to see this piece, you may find it of interesting listening.

Kind Regards,

Carly Macaulay