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We all have to live in the real world

Don't we? Do we? Well, unless we have a very undemanding sugar daddy or rich parents, then yes, we do have to live in the real world. It all comes down to money and, whether you go out to work or are on benefits, there are things you must do to afford life itself.

I genuinely think if money wasn't an issue, then lots of aspies would be a lot happier. Imagine them, roaming the fields and glens, at large, free range aspies, their happy little faces beaming under a soft sun. No money to earn, no bills to keep an eye on, no constant worry that they've forgotten to pay the rent. Yes, I like the idea of aspies roaming free and easy. Their groups would never be big, if they came together at all. You would just see them, keeping a safe distance from one another, respecting personal space and daydreaming their way through life.

Still, we'd get bored soon enough. No, honestly, we would. The same applies for those aspies who are quite happy free ranging at home, in front of the computer. If you had absolutely no calls on your time and were expected to veg out, you would be bored.

Except, there's the secret, readers. Aspies, despite appearances, very rarely do nothing. Rather like my manic collies, even at rest the brain is active. The aspie may seem serene or lazy, depending on your point of view, but they are a-buzz with activity on the inside. So, given the chance to be free range, without responsibilities, I think we'd get along very nicely, thank you.

Here's the rub, though. If we could live life following our own interests, boredom would be a thing of the past, something experienced when we had to work for a living. We would be pursuing our favourite thing of the moment, or our long-standing obsession. We would be content.

There would be none of the stress of day to day living. None of the routines we have to impose to get ourselves out of the door, dressed and in one piece. None of those moments when you shock yourself, suddenly feeling you're meant to be somewhere else doing something important. No need to call people, or text them, to check whether you have forgotten. No worries about turning up at the wrong place and being embarrassed because everyone but you knew about it.

In the real world, though, we often need to do all these things just to make a living. Usually, we don't have anyone to pay the bills. And if we did, it would be a rare person indeed who didn't come to resent the aspie for not doing anything productive while they had their bills paid. Lots of aspie endeavours involve much thought and sitting down - it's just the way it is - and to the non-aspie mind, thinking and sitting down do not constitute a valuable use of our time.

So, yes, let's assume we all have to live in the real world. We have to earn money or be given money to survive. We have to learn the fundamentals of survival in a world that needs cash or card to function.

Just suppose, though, if this wasn't so. I don't mean with the replacement stress of someone paying for everything, then breathing down your neck to see what you do with your time. And I don't mean those times when you might have to live off benefits, as that can be far more stressful than going to work by the time you've kept up with your side of the bargain - filling in forms, talking to lots of unsympathetic people, proving you need the money, then proving it again at very regular intervals.

I mean, what if we didn't need money at all or it wasn't what we used to pay for things? Yes, a Utopian ideal and one with its own problems. Let's be simple about it, though. From an aspie point of view, a society without this need to pay in only one way would be a gift. Our talents, whatever they may be, are often genuine talents. Also, they are often talents undervalued by a society that needs people to go out to work in great groups, doing the same things every day, in order to keep everything moving on a grand scale.

The aspie, by dint of their personality and particular talents, is very, very rarely suited to doing work that most people can do. Their talents are often based around solitary activity, misunderstood as 'messing about', irrelevant or unimportant. If the aspie could be recognised as having a valuable talent, a talent worthwhile for its own sake and not just its monetary value, how different would things be?

With the stress of needing to do things for money, which often means you need to do a lot more work or spend more time on what you enjoy than is comfortable, the aspie is less likely to be able to live off their talents. If money was removed and worth measured in a different way, how valuable might the aspie's time and talents become?

Yes, this is definitely an ideal, isn't it? The aspie would still be the aspie and there would be days, even weeks or months, when using their talents became impossible because the rotten old brain threw a wobbly and then took time to get back on track. Yet still, even taking into account that we are always ourselves, it is an appealing idea, that you can live from doing what you enjoy.

Here's the important bit, readers. I am not yet living off doing what I enjoy, but I'm nearly there. Very nearly. If I could put in more hours and not go mad, then I would very happily live off it. It took me years to understand that work could also be something I might be good at, that it didn't have to be an endless round of suffering and defeat.

Steadily, building self-confidence as I go, I have managed to incorporate more and more of what I am good at into my daily working life. This means that the magic formula of money+talent=life is achievable. It really is.

It doesn't happen overnight and, if you're like me, even the idea of waiting for anything can drive you crazy. But looking back I can see that it was vital for me that it didn't all happen at once, as I wouldn't have coped.

Readers, today is the 6th year anniversary of the day I started using my talents to make money. I made the decision to have a go at using my writing skills to make a living and so, terrified and literally shaking, 6 years ago I sat in my mother's front room, waiting for my first students to arrive.

It turned out they expected me to know what I was talking about and they kind of expected me to be eccentric, so I pretended to be confident and jumped straight in. I wonder if any of them guessed the shivers that went through me every week as their cars pulled up outside? Or how much of a relief it was to meet the wonderful Isaac, ex-haulage contractor, who decided to try writing in his retirement and could hold a room captive with his hilarious monologues. Thank you, Isaac, you helped me so many times by taking the attention away from little old me, quivering in the big chair.

From this tentative starting point I branched out to giving English lessons and school workshops (the terror). I remember how hard it was when I first had two lessons, one after the other, as I was so unused to working intensely for any length of time.

A few years after that I would have evenings full of lessons, one after the other, with the only break the car journeys in between. That was hard but not impossible. It was so important though, for me to build up to this stage gradually, finding my feet and paying attention to what I could manage and how I could organise myself. Every lesson learned is a valuable one.

Readers, there is no magic fix to help you use your talents to earn the great and powerful money. This one is up to you and also up to the people who know you best. If you're unsure what you could do, ask others. You might get some narky replies along the lines of 'try working for a living', but you should also hear some interesting, possible revelatory, responses. Sometimes, you really need other people to lay things out for you before you can see them for yourself.

Do try, though. It's tempting to think you've tried it all before or considered all the angles and found no solutions. Life changes us as we move through it, so it's always worth revisiting what we might think of as old ideas, to see if they can be made new.

In the end, it's up to you to decide if something is possible. It might be that it's a little bit possible, just a teeny bit. Take it and see what happens. That small beginning might lead to other things, even if they aren't what you expect. At the very least, we all need some adventures in our lives, even if they are very small ones.


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