Seeing the whole person




They say if you want to see a room as it really is, mess and all, you should take a picture and look at that. They say that it's too easy to miss the obvious when you see it all the time and you need to look at it a different way to see it clearly.

So, your okay living room, which you just cleaned today, is transformed in a photograph. You suddenly see the biscuit wrappers on the sofa, the bundle of dog hair on the corner of the rug, the peeling paint on the radiator and the place where the cat scratched at the door frame when he was little.

All these things are meant to be invisible to those of us who are permanently distracted. We see what we think there is to be seen and anything extra is left to be noticed by visitors.

I was thinking the same approach might be useful for Life. Imagine if you could hold a cosmic camera and take a picture of your life, as it really is? Putting aside the fact we humans are only meant to know so much and would probably be driven insane by the unadulterated truth, what would we see that is not obvious now?

Would we suddenly see all those things other people have been telling us about for years? Would I understand, finally, what my mother means by me not getting round to things? Would the confusion at my inability to cope evaporate if I could show the truth of my life?

In fact, would my life become more understandable to me or other people?

It's nice to think that the cosmic camera could show my life to others in a way that might help them understand the aspie point of view, as well as the whole gamut of difficulties and impossibilities that follow us around like angry chickens.

I'd like to think that this truth-inducing picture would be there as proof that I have not slacked off, I am not to blame for everything that went wrong, that I really did do my best here, and here and that little bit there too.

It's a cosy image, this idea that you could show others how it really is, without the need for explanations or arguments. Just push a well-thumbed photograph into their hand and wait for their face to change as they saw, really saw, what it was like.

I guess this is the dream of perfect understanding from other people. Aspies want to feel justified in so many areas, like not being able to cope, seeming to goof off or shuffle into the undergrowth at the first sign of trouble. We want others to see it as we do and not judge us so harshly.

However, I have a feeling that any such picture, taken by the cosmic camera, would be for our eyes only. Madness lies in complete understanding, but by understanding ourselves completely, we could reach perfect sanity in our own tiny space in the universe.

We couldn't show the picture to anyone else as they'd only see an underwhelming portrait of us, smiling manically at the camera. They wouldn't see what we did, they wouldn't understand our need to have their ultimate approval.

With the picture in our hand, though, we might be strong at last. We could cast off the uncertainty and leave behind the quivers as we were able to face what and who we are without the need to explain ourselves. We would be able, after so long, to have that long, silent moment where everything falls into place and we realise exactly who we are and why.

What might happen afterwards would be revolutionary. Imagine yourself unshackled at last, armed with self-understanding and the knowledge you needed to tackle life without losing sight of who you really are. The bliss of such an existence!

And yet, readers, this is what we strive for every day. All the little sufferings I know you go through, all the times you clasp your hands together in anxiety, wishing there was someone to unclasp them and hold them instead. All of those times, when you wish it would stop and you could re-start, afresh, a new person, leaving behind the sharp stings of Being, every day.

All of these things, painful, annoying, upsetting, confusing, they are part of the cosmic photograph we have been given. We can never take the picture ourselves but we are allowed to look at it. The trouble is, we can never look at it all at once so we are forced, step by step, day by day, to look at one piece at a time.

Eventually, after a lot of steps and time taken to study what we can see, we can put together a mental image of the whole photograph. It is possible to finally see yourself as complete, without needing the explanations, without feeling the pain of who you are.

It is true that it takes some time to reach this stage and, just to keep life interesting, that photograph never stays exactly the same, but be comforted and know that it does happen. If you strive for understanding and a clear, honest, loving vision of yourself, you will see who you are and why.

And readers, it will be a wonderful picture.

Amanda

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